Consumers appear slightly more confident

Americans seem to be taking their economic cues from Alfred E. Newman, the famous grinning mascot of Mad magazine, whose famous catchphrase was "What, me worry?"

This represents a sea change from the more recent attitude of fear of the future and terror about the present. One of the signs of this growing optimism are the figures collected on consumer confidence. According to Bloomberg, the Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in nine months.