Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

WASHINGTON (AFP) – U.S. consumer confidence fell slightly in September as Americans grew more wary about the outlook in coming months, a closely watched report released Tuesday showed.

The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 79.7 in September, down from a revised 81.8 in August.

Though a decline was expected for September, the figure was weaker than the 80.0 consensus estimate.

“This is in line… with buyers awaiting a battle among lawmakers over raising the Treasury debt ceiling that could threaten a government shutdown,” said Nate Kelley of Moody’s Analytics.

The Present Situation Index rose to 73.2 in September from 70.9 in August.

The Expectations Index, indicating consumers’ views on the outlook six months into the future, dived to 84.1 from 89.0 last month.

“Consumer confidence decreased in September as concerns about the short-term outlook for both jobs and earnings resurfaced, while expectations for future business conditions were little changed,” said Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s director of economic indicators.

“While overall economic conditions appear to have moderately improved, consumers are uncertain that the momentum can be sustained in the months ahead.”

Consumers’ outlook on jobs and incomes in the coming months darkened.

The number of consumers expecting more jobs fell to 16.9 percent from 17.5 percent in August, while those anticipating fewer jobs rose to 19.7 percent from 17.2 percent.

Income expectations were sharply lower. Those expecting their incomes to increase tumbled to 15.4 percent from 17.5 percent.

The concerns about lower incomes could crimp consumer spending, the engine of U.S. economic growth.

The decline in expectations “also gibes with our call for a relatively weak holiday shopping season this year,” said Moody’s Kelley.

Photo Credit: AFP/Mario Tama

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)