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Are we thinking ourselves into a recession? How predictions and doomsaying can affect real economic behavior

Almost 80 percent of consumers surveyed expect bad times in the year ahead.

Hear more from Matthew Zeitlin about this story:

Does talk of a recession make one happen?

But American consumers aren’t spending like a recession is around the corner

Americans’ feelings about the economy are about as bad as they’ve ever been, but when you look at some types of spending, it’s off the charts. The airline industry, beset by the same high fuel prices as everyone else, is facing the problem of not having enough staff instead of not having enough customers. Nike, for example, had higher earnings than analysts expected, and its Chief Financial Officer Matthew Friend told analysts on a call Monday, “We continue to closely monitor consumer behavior, and we’re not seeing any signs of pullback at this point in time.”

“The thing that matters the most for consumer spending is income, having money to spend,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist and the founder of Sahm Consulting. “As long as you’re in a situation where people have money, they got a raise, their job is going well, they put money in the bank —that’s what drives spending,” Sahm said.

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