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Despite signs of a turnaround in the United States and Europe, a rapid recovery is
unlikely. Even though The Conference Board Consumer Confidence IndexTM has
recently bounced back, constraints in income, wealth, and access to credit rule out a rapid increase in consumption. The rapid increase in U.S. savings is mainly the result of consumers paying off debt. It remains to be seen whether this trend represents a structural shift, but consumers will be watching their budgets carefully for a significant time to come.