High Alert

Events are conspiring to bury the Democrats, as a terrorism High Alert strikes much of the world just as the economic malaise solidifies.

Americans in both the living room and the boardroom are growing more fearful about the economy, creating a Catch-22 for the job market: Shoppers won't spend until they feel more secure, and business won't hire until people start spending.

The eroding views were revealed Tuesday by two separate surveys, one that found everyday Americans are increasingly pessimistic about jobs and another that found CEOs have grimmer predictions about upcoming sales.

"The economy is stuck in an unvirtuous cycle," said Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo. "Consumers are waiting for more jobs to be created, and businesses are waiting for consumers."

Two reports support that everyone's feeling depressed about the economy.

Meanwhile, a poll by Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of big companies, found two-thirds of chief executives expected sales to grow over the next six months. That's down from 79 percent in June.

The monthly consumer confidence index from the Conference Board, a private research group, fell to 48.5 in September, its lowest point since February and down from 53.2 in August. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting 52.

Now, as much of the world goes on a terrorism "High Alert" that may include threats to the U.S., the malaise deepens and seems to morph the Obama presidency into the worst parts of the Bush era. If this psychological link takes hold, the favorite fallback of the Democrats - blaiming everything on Bush - will become self-incriminating.

US and European officials said Tuesday they have detected a plot to carry out a major, coordinated series of new terror attacks in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and possibly the United States.

A senior US official said that while there is a "credible" threat, no specific time or place is known. President Obama has been briefed about the threat, say senior US officials.

US intelligence officials said they believed an attack on American soil was more likely to come from terrorists connected to the al Qaeda group in Yemen, known as AQAP, al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula.