The last time consumers were this pessimistic, the country was in the midst of recession. The consumer confidence index is at a level not seen since February 1992, according to Reuters/University of Michigan numbers out today, and "has only been this low during the recessions of the mid 1970s, the early 1980s and the early 1990s," the survey director said.
The index fell to 69.6 in early February, down from 78.4 in late January and well below the forecast 76.3. Meanwhile, the New York manufacturing index took an unexpected plunge to -11.7, its first negative reading since 2005. “Prospects for manufacturing are shaky,” one economist told Bloomberg. “We’re relying on strong exports, but I’m not convinced that will hold up indefinitely.”