This week brought grim economic news on various fronts, calling into question not only the durability of the economic recovery in general, but also the associated recovery in advertising spending that began in 2010.
However, the latest economic woes are unlikely to send advertising into the kind of nosedive that gripped the industry in 2008-2009.
The negative economic data covers a number of key areas. First and foremost, in the housing market, Standard & Poor's announced that the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index fell 0.8% from February-March, the eighth month-to-month drop in a row -- bringing the index to its lowest point since the second quarter of 2002.
It prompted S&P index committee chairman David M. Blitzer to remark: "Home prices continue on their downward spiral with no relief in sight." Economists and real estate experts agree that more declines are likely, now that the temporary prop provided by a popular government tax credit has been removed. The situation is made worse by the large inventory of unsold homes and homes in the process of foreclosure.
Consumer confidence also declined in the most recent measure, with the Conference Board index (measuring consumer sentiment about the next six months) dropping from 66 in April to 60.8 in May, reflecting concern over the rising cost of food and fuel along with the continuing declines in the housing market.
Economists had expected a small increase to 67; a level of 90 would be considered healthy for the economy. At the same time, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to 424,000, exceeding the figure (375,000) associated with economic growth.