The Norman Transcript

November 29, 2012

Consumer spending strong despite worries


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Judging by lines at stores, bragging by online retailers and a handful of government indicators, the economy continues to show signs of improvement this month.

Consumer confidence in November hit the highest level in five years. Economists say rising home prices, more hiring and lower gasoline prices get the credit for the spending surge. The index rose from 73.1 in October to 73.7 in November.

The looming “fiscal cliff” doesn’t seem to be bothering consumers. However, businesses may be holding back a bit. Automatic tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January could bring the sputtering economy to a standstill.

The air of compromise in Washington, thick after the Nov. 6 election, seems to be growing thinner by the day. The posturing on both sides of the political aisle only deepens Americans’ disdain for the process.

If a compromise on entitlement spending and taxation can be reached, businesses that put off expansion will likely move forward with projects. That could lead to even more hiring.

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