Increasing costs at the grocery store and the gas pump, news of falling home prices, and the recurring ups and downs of the financial markets seem to be taking their toll on the collective American psyche.

When asked to name the most important problem facing the nation, 35 percent of Americans participating in a March 2008 Gallup poll simply said “the economy.” More than half (55 percent) mentioned some aspect of the economy, such as fuel and oil prices, unemployment and the high cost of living. As recently as October 2007, only 22 percent of Americans mentioned some aspect of the economy as the most important problem.

To counteract this negative consumer psychology and improve public understanding of monetary policymaking, the Federal Reserve has recently stepped up the frequency and expanded the content of the economic projections it releases to the public. This increased communication, along with unwavering coverage by the media, appears to be keeping economic concerns top-of-mind for many.

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