WASHINGTON -- Consumer confidence plunged this month amid fears that politicians would be unable to resolve the fiscal cliff, triggering another recession next year, according to survey data released Friday.
The closely watched consumer sentiment index from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan tumbled in December to 72.9, the lowest level in five months, from 82.7 in November.
The latest figure is even lower than a preliminary December reading of 74.5 reported two weeks ago.
“Confidence is lost much more easily than it can be regained, and the pessimism created by not reaching a resolution before year-end will be difficult to reverse even if a settlement is reached soon after the start of 2013," said Richard Curtin, the survey's chief economist.
"Blaming one side or the other for failure will only increase pessimism as it reflects a dysfunctional system for setting economic policy," he said.