Consumer confidence: not such an easy knob to turn?

Amity Shlaes puts her finger on a facet of Keynesian economics that I think a lot of us sensed, but couldn't quite define:

Most of us sense that there’s more to revival than sudden desires for phones or cars, that the consumer isn’t always a mindless mall rat. Rational caution may be beneficial, tax breaks aimed at stimulating consumption, perverse.

One of my problems with how people are responding to this is the ignorance mentality.  It is bliss... for a while.  A huge majority of people in the US - and it is even worse in most places - simply aren't educated on economics, and don't pursue that education.  The alternative being, a sort of complacent faith or condoning of certain economic policies.  They ask the same questions when they see the news - "how did this happen?" But they are content to watch straw men burn and do more entertaining or productive things with their time once a smiling newsman or politician says it was "lack of regulation" or "greed."  But even the smiling masses have intuition, and they use it when they go to the store - perhaps even more so.

Still, the same Chicago trust-o-meter carries some negative messages. In December the pollsters asked: “Have the government interventions in financial markets over the last three months made you more or less confident in investment in the stock market?”

A full 80 percent replied “less,” an annihilating mark for the performance ofGeorge W. Bush, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed ChairmanBen Bernanke. Asked a similar question last month, 67 percent replied “less confident.”

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