US consumer confidence gauge hits 17-yr high
Ratio of household debt service remains low
The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence rose to the highest level since September 2000. In the past, that has been a contrarian indicator: When consumers get confident they take on more debt, and that leads to problems. This time around, however, the ratio of household debt service to disposable income remains extremely low, in part thanks to very low interest rates. Total consumer debt, moreover, stands at just 104% of disposable income, vs. 132% in 2008. Both the overall volume of debt and the low interest rate on that debt contribute to subdued debt servicing pressures.