- - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

According to the Conference Board, an important economic indicator, the consumer-confidence index, fell to 71.2 in October, from a revised 80.2 in September. Conference Board spokeswoman Lynn Franco wrote, “Consumer confidence deteriorated considerably as the federal government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis took a particularly large toll on consumers’ expectations.”

Did the survey of consumer confidence intentionally overlook the millions of disillusioned consumers who were unable to sign up for insurance coverage on the dysfunctional Healthcare.gov website? No, it’s not part of the consumer-confidence survey. Yet if it was reported in an economic indicator, the drop in consumer confidence would be staggering. This makes it very likely that millions of consumers who were unable to secure health care coverage are disillusioned and maybe even fearful about not having insurance coverage in January.

Can we expect these fearful consumers to reconsider their discretionary spending? Yes, we can. These disillusioned consumers are likely to scale back on holiday shopping and travel. If this happens, it will be captured in the reporting of lagging economic indicators, making the Healthcare.gov website glitch the Grinch who stole Christmas.

MARK M. SPRADLEY
Chevy Chase

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