Today’s Economic History: The phrase “confidence fairy” does not appear in Google Ngrams. However, “business confidence” does:

Google Ngram Viewer

The first modern use of “confidence fairy” I can find in google is Paul Krugman’s, on July 1, 2010:

With google reporting the second person to mention it as Joe Stiglitz in October:

Among the approximately 18,400 mentions of the phrase, google (anonymized) reports the most salient pieces of the conversation thereby started are:

  1. Robert Skidelsky (2015): Debating the Confidence Fairy
  2. Paul Krugman (2014): The Zombie Confidence Fairy
  3. Paul Krugman (2013): The Confidence Fairy, The Expectations Imp, and the Rate-Hike Obsession – The New York Times
  4. Paul Krugman (2012): Expectations and the Confidence Fairy

With a notable contribution earlier that does not use the phrase “confidence fairy” being:

And with the first occurrence of the idea I can find–“if confidence could return, touch all industries with her magic wand…” is in: