The impact: neutral to negative. After several years of sluggish economic growth, consumers seem to be settling in for the long haul.
The world: Political instability in parts of the Middle East as well as the European debt crisis contribute to the overall uncertainty many Americans feel. That feeling will only deepen if European countries such as Greece and Portugal default on their debt.
The impact: negative. As consumer confidence struggles to regain its footing, uncertainty around the globe doesn't help.
The bottom line: Consumers might have won the bank fee war, but trying to get ahead in the current economy can feel like swimming upstream. Here's to an easier time in 2012.