WASHINGTON (AP) — It's the last thing a nervous consumer and a fragile economy needed: a confidence-killing nosedive on Wall Street.
Americans struggling with lean wages, job insecurity and high gasoline prices have seen a 15-percent plunge in stock prices shrink their 401(k) accounts over the past 2½ weeks. When consumers feel less wealthy, they're less likely to buy new furniture, new appliances or new cars. And their spending drives about 70 percent of the economy.
Murray Specktor, 58, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot, says he has enough money tucked away to support himself in retirement. But after the stock market's plunge, he's taking further precautions.