Tags: Consumer | woes | stock | surge

MarketWatch: Consumer Woes Remain Despite Stock Surge

By Dan Weil   |   Sunday, 09 Mar 2014 04:33 PM

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index may have soared about 180 percent from its March 2009 low, but consumers still face plenty of obstacles, writes Charles Passy of MarketWatch.

That includes falling household income, rising prices for important goods and services and low interest rates on savings, he says.

No wonder, then, that the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index stood at only 78.1 in February, compared to 144.7 at the peak of the 2000 stock rally.

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As for household income, it has slid 6 percent since March 2009 to a median of $52,297, according to Sentier Research. 'It’s not a pretty picture," Sentier principal John Coder told MarketWatch.

Meanwhile, gasoline and medical care prices have soared, Passy writes. Even the cost of bacon has jumped 21 percent in the last two years.

Many Americans have missed out on the stock returns of the last five years, as they were scared out of the market by the plunge of 2008-09, Passy says. And miniscule interest rates make it difficult to earn much on savings.

Former FDIC Chairman William Isaac has strong objections to the Federal Reserve's low interest rate policy.

"QE [quantitative easing] has not been helpful to the economy. In fact, it's impeding growth, and it's a terrible tax on senior citizens who are trying to have income for their retirement," he told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.

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