Drennen on Consumer Confidence – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Drennen on Consumer Confidence

Professor of Economics Tom Drennen was quoted recently in an article about consumer confidence in the Messenger Post.

The article cites a recent report by the Siena Research Center that notes “that upstate – defined as any part of the state outside of the metropolitan New York City area – has a 58.1 percent outlook on the economy, down over 3 percent from the previous survey. Only 52.1 percent of those polled in upstate have confidence for the future.”

It goes on to note Drennen “doesn’t blame them. Growth has slowed. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent, and many are frustrated because they thought all of this was over, he said.”

“People are fatigued with the sluggish economy. There is just so much uncertainty over where things are going. It’s not for the weak of heart,” Drennen said.

A member of the HWS faculty since 1995, Drennen earned a B.S. in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in public affairs from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in resource economics from Cornell University. In 2006, he received the Hobart and William Smith Excellence in Teaching Award. Drennen is also the author of a book, “Pathways to a Hydrogen Future,” which seeks to untangle competing visions of a hydrogen economy.
The full article follows.


Messenger Post
Shaky economy has locals glum

Mike Murphy • staff writer • August 11, 2011

Newark, N.Y. –
Kevin Snover, who with wife Barbara co-owns the New York New York clothing shop on South Main Street in Canandaigua, checks the stock market daily, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

The dismal economy has already forced him and his wife, Barbara, to make changes in what their 3-year-old fashion-accessories business offers to customers. That’s in response to the habits of shoppers, who tend to cut back on things like fashion accessories when times are tough.

Even during one of the hottest, driest summers in years, shoppers are skimping on spending money for more expensive bikinis and finding the less expensive brands suit them just as well, he said.

So, the Snovers offer less expensive brands than they have before, and they will allow customers to purchase on layaway to help.

“The business is still out there, but overall, people are reluctant to spend on higher priced items,” Snover said.

“People are scared to spend.”

A recent report by the Siena Research Center has found that the consumer confidence outlook across the country has fallen in the aftermath of the debt ceiling debate, including in New York state, where overall consumer confidence is now at 63 percent, down 1.9 percent from previously and 0.7 percent lower than the national confidence that was compiled by the University of Michigan in a separate study.

Upstate New York, in particular, is not feeling positive. Siena says that upstate – defined as any part of the state outside of the metropolitan New York City area – has a 58.1 percent outlook on the economy, down over 3 percent from the previous survey. Only 52.1 percent of those polled in upstate have confidence for the future.

Thomas Drennen, professor of economics and chair of the department at Hobart and William and Smith Colleges in Geneva, doesn’t blame them. Growth has slowed. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent, and many are frustrated because they thought all of this was over, he said.

That played out after Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and up-and-down Wall Street ride.

“People are fatigued with the sluggish economy,” Drennen said. “There is just so much uncertainty over where things are going. It’s not for the weak of heart.”

The actions of congressional representatives who left recently for their August vacation – with so many major issues unresolved – don’t inspire much hope or demonstrate necessary leadership in these times, according to Brian Feight of Canandaigua.

“They should stay and do their work when work needs to be done,” he said. “The economy is a perfect example.”

Not helping matters are several factors that are not directly related to political happenings, such as the price of gas.

The Siena study said that 64 percent of New Yorkers felt that the price of gasoline was a somewhat or a very serious problem. However, in upstate New York, it is 72 percent.

Michelle Geraghty, of Waterloo, said that instead of zigzagging back and forth between home and shopping destinations, she’ll plot a route ahead of time and stick to it to save on gas.

“I find myself watching the gas tank and my travels more than I used to,” said Carolyn Lindner of Canandaigua.

But amid all of the bad news, perhaps things have started looking up. It was announced Aug. 5 that employers around the country added 117,000 jobs last month. The figure was the best in three months.

Snover is one who will take the news with a grain of salt.

“I thought we’d be out by now,” he said.

Locals comment on the current economic climate:
I’ve always been a frugal person, but we do things that are free, like coming to the lake,
drawing, and going to
playgrounds.”
– Leelannee Wink of Canandaigua
The economy has forced me to have to really
specialize my job search. You have to have at least two years of schooling.”
– Brian Feight of Canandaigua, who was forced by an auto accident to rethink his career as a professional painter
I think before I spend.”
– Carolyn Lindner of Canandaigua, photographed with Lexi Napuli
I do coupons and support local farm markets. Now, I check prices and buy cheaper.”
– Michelle Geraghty of Waterloo

– Messenger Post Media writer Dan Glickman and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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