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Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Economic Review
Consumer confidence after September 11
C. Alan Garner
Abstract

The terrorist attacks on September 11 dealt a serious blow to the U.S. economy. The damage included the tragic loss of human life, massive property destruction, and disruptions to the travel and shipping industries. But immediately after the attacks, many observers also worried about the possible harm to business and consumer confidence. Although the effects on business confidence are hard to measure, regular surveys of households make it easier to assess the effects on consumer confidence. These surveys show that consumer confidence was surprisingly resilient.> Faced with this resilience, forecasters and policymakers struggled to interpret the movements in consumer confidence. Did consumers quickly return to more normal economic behavior even though they were shocked by the terrorist attacks? Or was the resilience somehow illusory? Were measures of consumer confidence actually lower than would be expected based on prevailing economic conditions? The answers to these questions might have implications about the economic outlook or the proper settings for monetary and fiscal policy.> Garner examines the impact of the terrorist attacks on consumer confidence at the end of 2001. He finds that the terrorist attacks did not cause a clear weakening of consumer confidence after September 11. As a result, the consumer confidence indexes maintained a fairly normal relationship to other economic indicators and did not contain much new information for forecasters and policymakers. The resilience of consumer confidence may have offered some assurance, however, that the worst fears about the economic outlook would not be realized.


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C. Alan Garner, "Consumer confidence after September 11" , Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Economic Review, issue Q II, 2002.
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Keywords: Consumers ; Consumer behavior ; Terrorism
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