Main Street is happier

Main Street is happier

This week has brought interesting data from the little guys in the world’s largest economy. A popular index to measure consumer confidence in the US has jumped beyond expectation for April. It is now at its highest level since September.

What does this mean? It is hoped that US consumers will now be more ready to spend and thus boost demand in both the US and the rest of the world.

Stock markets went into a bullish tizzy soon after the new consumer confidence data was out.

But that still leaves one question unanswered: Have investors got the causality the wrong way around? Are US consumers more confident because they have seen the value of the stock portfolio go up? So should the stock markets not see the point?

Meanwhile, prices of homes —the other great source of family wealth and confidence —continue to plunge in the US. And unemployment continues to rise. While higher consumer confidence is good news, we wonder how long it will hold out in the face of these problems.