Econ update

The markets jumped at the beginning of the war but are now trading lower.  They may trade even lower as the war continues and uncertainty remains.  The dollar remained under pressure near recent lows versus the euro and other currencies.  The price of oil dropped but bounced as the war didn’t end quick enough for traders.

Maybe the worst news is that consumers aren’t happy.  Representing the vast majority of GDP, consumer spending was the key element in keeping the economy afloat for the last few years.  The University of Michigan’s final March index of consumer sentiment fell for a third straight month to 77.6, its lowest since September 1993, from 79.9 in February.  And if they do spend, fewer of us are paying our bills on time.

Credit card delinquencies in the fourth quarter of 2002 to the highest level since the American Bankers Association began tracking the data in 1990.  Credit card delinquencies climbed to 4.07 percent of all accounts in the quarter, up from 4 percent in the third quarter of 2002, which was the previous high.

On a lighter note, the NYSE is taking a little flak  In the past week, the exchange has taken a double hit: it has been criticized for its decision to appoint Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Sanford Weill to its board and then has also been questioned on its call to ban two reporters from al Jazeera from broadcasting from its floor.  Weill is in the middle of the WorldCom scandal and banning reporters seems to get under the skin of many that feel that free speech is exactly what the world needs right now.

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