Consumer Confidence Tanked During Debt Ceiling Debacle

Young businessman checking his wallet
The ugly fight in Washington that shut down the government and nearly failed to raise the debt limit took a serious toll on consumer confidence.

The Conference Board's monthly Consumer Confidence Index was released Tuesday, and it showed that people's confidence in the U.S. economy dipped sharply in October. In one month, the confidence index fell from 80.2 to 71.2, and the nonprofit that publishes the survey pointed the finger at the budget crisis.

"Consumer confidence deteriorated considerably as the federal government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis took a particularly large toll on consumers' expectations," wrote Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. Franco went on to note that similar dips have been observed last year during the "fiscal cliff" debate and during the last government shutdown in the mid-1990s.

The Conference Board isn't alone in its assessment that the shutdown hurt consumer confidence: Last week's Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer confidence survey found that confidence in the economy had reached its lowest ebb since December 2012.

Consumer confidence is a closely watched economic indicator, and the troublesome reports come just a month before the official kick-off of the holiday shopping season. And that could spell trouble for the retail industry and the economy as a whole.

"With the holiday shopping season around the corner, consumers have been shaken by all the political turmoil in Washington," wrote IHS Global Insights economist Chris Christopher in an email. "Looking ahead, we expect consumer confidence to gain traction in the upcoming months; however, confidence falls faster than it rises."

There is a potential silver lining for consumers, though -- as Christopher points out, retailers will be discounting heavily to convince shoppers to shake off their worries and get to the mall.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Understanding Credit Scores

Credit scores matter -- learn how to improve your score.

View Course »

How Financial Planners go Grocery Shopping

Learn to shop smart and save.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Congress have hit each other with canes, fist fights and even one shooting in the past. Looked pretty tame this time. Politics is always messy. Keep up the good work guys!

October 31 2013 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"Consumer Confidence Tanked During Debt Ceiling Debacle"

Oh I's tanked at no other time - JUST DURING the debacle.

LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 31 2013 at 1:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Consumer confidence has tanked over the Obamacare botched roll out, policies getting canceled the president said you could keep, sky high premium increases, everyone signing up for medicad free and almost no one signing up on the other side to pay for it.
That is where confidence went.

October 29 2013 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just keep spending money we don't have. One day it will all come crashing down.

October 29 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment

Yep, obama is like a teenager with parent's credit card at the mall.

October 29 2013 at 4:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Wish it would tank some more Was out running errands on Tues at 2. Would have thought it was the day after Thanksgiving. Could not get a cart at Sam's. Had to go find one in the lot. Went by the phone store wth a question, I was #37. Skipped that. Kroger store not as busy as Sam's, but wait at service desk to buy powerball 10 minutes.

Someone please tell these unconfident, broke consumers to stay home.

October 29 2013 at 4:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply