The University of Michigan and Reuters today released the results of a consumer sentiment survey indicating optimism regarding the economy is at its lowest since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In fact, with the exception of 2003, this is the worst consumers have viewed economic conditions in 15 years.

The current economic conditions index dropped to 91 in November from 97.6 in October. Overall sentiment cascaded to 75 from last month's reading of 80.9. Analysts' expected a reading of 79.5.

Bear Stearns' chief U.S. economist John Ryding claims that the lowest decline in consumer confidence came from low income households worried about rising gas prices and the real estate market. Ryding goes on to note that the slumping sentiment would usually be indicative of the economy entering a recession, except a recession is usually preceded by a spike in jobless claims. So far, jobless claims have remained fairly even.