European consumers hunker down in 2008 - by Sumeet Desai
Consumers across Europe are starting to think twice about spending money as confidence over the economic outlook crumbles in the face of the continued ructions in world financial markets. The French consumer mood soured to an all-time low in January, according to an official survey on Tuesday, as households struggled to pay higher bills for food, heating and lodging. And those results were taken even before Societe Generale, France's second-largest bank, admitted to suffering the biggest rogue trading fraud in history -- 4.9 billion euros. More than three quarters of the French population now think the crisis in markets -- European stocks are down more than 10 percent in the last month alone -- will have a significant impact on the economy. Nearly 70 percent say it will crimp their lifestyle, a newspaper poll showed on Tuesday.