March 2, 2001

Slumping Sales Will Speed America Into Recession

Every day there's more bad news about the economy. Just last week, consumer confidence hit new lows. Now, retail sales are plummeting!

Sales at the Gap, J.C. Penney, Federated Department Stores, and other retailers are all down. Consumers are simply too scared to spend. Can you blame them? Major corporations laying off thousands of workers, and the stock market, which consumers have come to count on as a savings vehicle and source of wealth, is falling on its face.

Then there's Americans' debt load. Consumers are staggering under a massive $662 billion in charge card debt -- but the pace at which they're piling it on has slowed significantly. No wonder retailers are suffering. Shoppers are simply refusing to run up their credit cards until the plastic melts.

The really scary thing is that in his recent speeches, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has made it clear that the health of the economy depends on consumers' willingness to open their wallets -- after all, consumer spending was the engine that fueled our economy's dramatic expansion into 2000. From the looks of things, those wallets have been zipped shut -- and this will only accelerate America's economic downfall.

So don't let anyone tell you the worst is over. If retail sales are any indication, the worst is yet to come.

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