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Consumer gloom a worrying sign for all of us

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On face value, recent economic events should give many households a few reasons to be a bit more cheery.

The property market appears to be stabilising, debt is extremely cheap, the share market is near an all-time high and tax cuts are starting to flow from this month. There have even been tentative signs of a slight easing in trade tensions between China the United States.


Despite all this better news, however, consumer confidence has been stubbornly weak, and the Westpac Melbourne Institute index of sentiment even fell to a two-year low this month.

Of course, there will always be winners and losers from economic trends (low rates help borrowers but harm savers, for example), and measuring confidence is not a perfect science.

But in a month where there was no obviously negative economic news, and quite a few positives, it is unusual to see a rise in pessimism.

Things are not much better in the business world, where confidence last month also reversed the bounce of May, which followed the........

© The Age