Consumers have been the missing link in the U.S. economic recovery and are likely to remain so absent a major change in sentiment.
Despite the seemingly endless stream of Wall Street economists who believe the U.S. is about to snap out of its malaise, most Americans think the economy is bad and getting worse, according to several recent surveys.
One of the more glaring examples of how strong pessimism has become is Gallup's U.S. Economic Confidence Index. The measure gauges the difference between respondents who say the economy is improving or declining. The most recent results are not good.
Fully 59 percent say the economy is "getting worse" against just 37 percent who say it is "getting better." That gap of 22 percentage points is the worst since August, according to Gallup, which polled 3,542 adults. The index carries a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.