Last month's Consumer Confidence Index showed general improvements and reported that optimists now again outnumber pessimists on income expectations. But although the index shows relative good news, when you put the increases and strong forecasts for October's index at 74 into perspective, this number is still lower than the lowest point in the 2001 recession.

So if the index isn't showing levels historically associated with recovery and economic improvement, what's the story? It has nothing to do with the undecided voter, and has everything to do with the disenchanted consumer. Consumer disillusionment with the future of our economy was illustrated by some of the figures in last month's release.

In September, the number of individuals claiming business conditions were "good" grew slightly from 15.3 percent to 15.5 percent, and individuals claiming conditions were "bad" fell from 34.3 percent to 33.3 percent.  Given those figures, 51.2 percent of those surveyed felt that the economy was neither improving nor deteriorating.

In September, 8.3 percent of individuals surveyed described the job market as "plentiful," up from August's 7.2 percent.  Individuals claiming that jobs were still "hard to get" fell from 40.6 percent to 39.9 percent. On the assessment of the future of the jobs market, again, over half of the individuals surveyed, 51.8 percent, saw the employment situation as stagnant to weak.

This week, on October 30, 2012, the Conference Board will release the Consumer Confidence Index for October. The index wavered back and forth over the summer and into the fall, with declines in August and improvements in September to 70.3.  September's index represented a seven percent increase.

Notwithstanding these improvements, the index doesn't show normal recovery levels, especially considering that the recession technically ended over two years ago.  Today's "good days" with the Consumer Confidence Index are still at par with or even below the index levels during the 1990 and 2001 recessions of 71.5 and 109.3 respectively. Even the 1980 recession level was 69.8, compared to the low 70s we're seeing today.

These low levels are, in part, explained by the extreme drop in the index during the recession to the lowest levels seen in three decades at 54. But that doesn't explain why consumer confidence hasn't rebounded.

Uncertainty due to the presidential election around the future political agenda and president is likely contributing somewhat to lower confidence levels. Employment levels lingering persistantly above eight percent up until last month and tattered household balance sheets are also contributing to uncertainty.

Ultimately, consumer disenchantment seems to be the biggest problem, as illustrated by some of the figures in last month's release. On the assessment of the future of the jobs market and business conditions over half of the individuals surveyed saw sustained economic conditions.

These disillusioned consumers are shrugging their shoulders and saying "eh" to the economy today as I see it.  Over half of our consumers are in this "eh" camp when it comes to the future of our economy. This attitude is manifested in the low consumer confidence levels, which are certainly improving relative to the 2008 levels, but are still remarkably pessimistic.