Rejoice Michael Pollan, it’s finally happening: wheat bread is almost more popular than white bread. Consumers are increasingly skipping past the Wonderbread for healthier-looking fare that either has “natural” in the name or whole grains visible through the packaging. [More]
A provision buried deep within the recently passed Wall Street reform bill has the power to finally kill off mandatory binding arbitration, one of the more dangerous anti-consumer practices still sanctioned by law. While the bill includes a limited provision banishing arbitration agreements from mortgages and home equity loans, it also gives broad powers to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to kill off arbitration in all other consumer financial products. [More]
As a nation, we saved more of our paychecks last month than any time since last September–nearly 4% of income went unspent. That worries economists, because it means we’re not spending at a high enough rate to support an economic recovery. But as the Washington Post notes, since unemployment remains high and most of the recent wage growth came from the government, consumers aren’t exactly comfortable with buying something shiny and new just because it’s on sale. [More]
Lastmonth, InformationWeek filed a Freedom of Information request with the FCC and the FTC for complaints made about the iPhone in the past year. Although the breakdown of complaints is interesting, what I found most striking was that in a nation of over 11 million iPhone owners, less than 600 complaints were filed in the past 14 months*, and some of those were for other Apple products. If you have a legitimate grievance with a company, you might have a much better chance of being heard by the FCC or FTC than you think. [More]
Back in the early days of the recession, circa 2008, people were nervous about the future, and decided to start saving more of their money instead of just spending it. That brought personal savings rates up to over 5% by last year. But after hearing for months that the recession is over, consumers are apparently starting to believe it — especially when numbers show the economy growing by 3.2%. Savings rates are down to about 2.7%, and consumer spending is up by 0.6% as of March. Unfortunately, incomes are only up 0.3%, so plenty of people may be helping the economy grow by spending more than they earn. Thanks, guys! [More]
Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the Brookings Institute about his administration’s plan for spurring job growth in our not-quite-a-recession-anymore-but-still-pretty-much-a-recession. Now they’ve invited Consumerist to bring our readers’ questions about the program to Austan Goolsbee, the staff director and chief economist on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. [More]
Retailers have been hoping that we’d enter the annual Festival of Shopping with higher spirits than last year, but it looks like that might not happen after all. The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index was updated today, and it shows a drop to 66.0, “well below October’s reading of 70.6 and a sharp reversal of the 71.0 figure economists had expected.”
Gas prices have spiked in the last two weeks, reaching levels last seen during the peak of the summer driving season, says the AP. The increase in gas prices has retailers worried that consumers who are putting more money in their gas tanks will buy fewer gifts during the upcoming holiday season.
Earlier this week, a group of 70 law professors from universities across the country released a 16-page Statement of Support (pdf) detailing why they’re in favor of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Act. You can read the statement yourself via the link above, but we’ve summarized them below.
Remember Burr Oak this past summer? That was the Chicago cemetery that dug up bodies and resold the graves to new customers. Well, yesterday a U.S. Representative from Illinois introduced the Bereaved Consumers Protection Act, a bill that would standardize record-keeping, make cemeteries accountable to federal officials as well as state, and protect consumers from shady business practices.
Good work, consumers of America! You’ve collectively reduced your outstanding debt by $21.5 billion during the month of July. We’re so proud. Except, oops, that’s not so great for the economy.
The deepest “employment slump of any recession in the last eight decades” has consumers convinced they’re about to lose their jobs — and that’s affecting consumer confidence, says Bloomberg.