The Serious People who are hyping the importance of a deal on the budget standoff before January 1 have various scare stories that are supposed to make us believe that missing the deadline will lead to an economic catastrophe. Part of the story is that consumers will freak out and stop buying things.

This part does not appear to be supported by the data, as the Conference Board Index of consumer confidence showed a sharp increase in December. Actually, that's not entirely right. The index fell sharply in December, from 71.5 in November to 65. However, this drop was entirely due to a drop in the future expectations index. This index has almost no relationship to current consumption.

On the other hand, the current conditions index, which tracks consumption reasonably well, rose to 62.8 in December from 57.4 in November. This is the index that tells us what people are actually doing.

The future expectations index reflects the nonsense reported in the media, which these days means lots of end of the world prophecies over missing the December 31st deadline.

 

Addendum: The NYT committed the same sin.

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