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CNN Today

American Consumers Power Economy

Aired January 31, 2001 - 2:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: American consumers are the engine that powers this economy, and if you're not in a spending mood, the engine can quickly run out of gas, meaning recession.

Here's CNN's financial correspondent Peter Viles.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER VILES, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even in the comfort of the shopping mall, consumer confidence has taken a dramatic turn for the worse in January. You can certainly hear it at this mall outside Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe confidence is going down right now just in general, because of the stock market. I have retail stores, and I see that in my retail stores.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see recession in the future, so I'm trying to make sure I still save some money.

VILES: Consumer confidence has now declined four months in a row, although it remains well above the levels it fell to in the last recession.

LYNN FRANCO, THE CONFERENCE BOARD: What we can tell is that consumers are very apprehensive, and this can lead to a cautious consumer, which in turn can lead to a cutback in spending and may not bode well for the health of the economy.

VILES: No one knows that better than Greenspan, who warned Congress last week of the consequences if consumer confidence collapses.

ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: In which case, it's a different kind of economy, and it could languish for awhile. It's important that we avoid that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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