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MINDS IN THE DUMPS - By Charles Payne

"We don't want to put the cart before the horse."

President Obama

Our Commander-in-Chief explaining that there is no current plan for dealing with the terror group, ISIS, beyond our containment efforts is the kind of thing that hurts the overall mood of the nation. But is disappointment with our elected leaders and slow recovery enough to explain why Americans are so glum? We are really down in the dumps, and it's not just the fact summer is almost over.

The market is rocking, housing is coming back, and unemployment is plunging… those are common headlines from the New York Times and political operatives, but each day, we sink deeper into the abyss. I get that the NY Times and most political operatives are detached from the hearts and minds of the average American, yet this is a phenomenon.

We're actually less confident about the future now than in the more immediate aftermath of the recession. Now, 71% of Americans think permanent damage has been done to the economy; back in November 2009, it was only 49%.

Fading Hopes? November 2009 August 2014
Permanently Damaged 49% 71%
Unemployment Rate 9.9% 6.2%
Click to enlarge

This same kind of bifurcation between assets and emotions is reflected in consumer confidence compared to the stock market. The market is at all-time highs, and confidence, as of late, has been plunging and unable to near its highest level achieved in the year 2000.

Of course, it's hard to feel like things are getting better if you look in the mirror and see yourself in a lower economic condition. Only 57% of Americans now see themselves as middle class, down from 72% in 2008.

I understand the frustration and disappointment, but worry about this 'woe-is-me' crisis materializing into a real economic crisis. I think we need to be reminded, as the world becomes shakier, that people still equate safety with America and money flows here. Watching the foundations crumble from the inside obscures the greatness still seen from the outside. In July, the US dollar rallied ahead of all other major currencies. Yes, we have work to do in untangling this deadly web, restoring the pride in being great, and restoring the dignity in wanting to overachieve. To get there, morale has to be a lot better than it currently is… get out of the mental abyss.

Today's Session

After closing in the red yesterday, the major indices are up and kicking, preparing to close the month of August in the green, making this the fourth straight week of gains. It appears observers are finally acknowledging the mounds of positive US economic data that was released yesterday. During today's session, we will get a look at personal income and outlays, the Chicago PMI, and the consumer sentiment. Below are a few of the companies that reported yesterday after the close and this morning.

Ticker EPS (Actual) EPS (EST) EPS 1-YearAgo Rev (Actual$M) Rev (Est$M) Rev Y/Y %
AVGO 1.26 1.05 0.74 $ 1,287.00 $ 1,335.32 99.8%
FRED -0.19 -0.17 0.09 $ 491.20 $ 487.39 1.9%
SPLK 0.01 -0.02 -0.01 $ 101.50 $ 93.82 51.7%
BIG 0.31 0.30 0.31 $ 1,195.00 $ 1,201.78 1.2%
Click to enlarge

Personal Income Outlays

During the month of July, income growth among consumers slowed. Personal income increased 0.2% to $28.6 billion in the US from June. The slight increased personal income resulted in disposable income rising only 0.1% to $17.7 billion from June. June saw both personal income and disposable income grow 0.5% from May. Despite the increases in income, that nation saw spending decrease by $13.6 billion, or 0.1%, which brings us back to March of this year when consumer confidence began to tumble. Our economy is expanding, employment is up, housing sales are up, yet many remain discouraged. Spending has become guarded and savings has increased. We need to break out of this funk and celebrate our accomplishments. I get that wages aren't climbing high enough to match inflation, but the divergence between spending and savings is shocking. We've come a far way since the recession hit.