SEARCH

Entries in Consumer Comfort Index (6)

Tuesday
Feb012011

Consumer Sentiment: Struggling Forward

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Consumer views of current economic conditions resumed their struggle forward this week, with the weekly Consumer Comfort Index inching back near the high end of its recent range.

The index stands at -41 on its scale of -100 to +100, far below its 25-year average, -14, and indeed still below -40, where it’s been mired for a record 146 weeks. But, despite ups and downs, there are several indications of gradual advance:

    * The CCI was below -41 for all of 2009 and reached -41 just three times in 2010 -- but it’s already matched or exceeded this level twice in just the first month of 2011.

    * While the index averaged -48 in 2009 (its lowest on record), it advanced slightly to -46 in 2010, and so far this year has averaged -43 -- small progress, but progress nonetheless.

    * Since hitting its record low, -54, in December 2008, the CCI has correlated with the passage of time at a robust .61; as the weeks have passed, it’s slowly gained.

    * Last month’s economic expectations measure -- maintained separately from the current-sentiment CCI -- was its least pessimistic in more than eight years.

    * The index correlates with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at a remarkable .83 (after detrending for time) -- and the Dow Tuesday closed above 12,000 for the first time since June 2008.

The CCI, produced by Langer Research Associates, is based on Americans’ ratings of their personal finances, the buying climate and the national economy. Forty-six percent now rate their finances positively, matching its average last year, and 28 percent call it a good time to buy things, a scant 2 points above its 2010 average. While just 14 percent rate the national economy positively, that’s 4 points better than its 2010 average, and has been in double digits for 12 weeks straight, matching the longest run in double digits (set last spring) since fall 2008.

Even with the general upward trend, there could be a long road ahead. After the last major recession in 1991-92, it took the CCI more three and a half years to reach its pre-recession levels. Now, given how low it’s been and how slowly it’s advancing, it would take the CCI 10 years at this pace to regain its current long-term average.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Jan182011

Edge in Optimism Hits an Eight-Year High

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Economic optimism exceeds pessimism by the widest margin in more than eight years in this week’s ongoing Consumer Comfort survey, a fresh sign of improvement in public views of the nation’s economy -- but with continued challenges also clear.

Thirty-three percent of Americans now say the economy’s getting better -- the most since January 2004 -- while just 23 percent say it’s worsening -- the fewest even longer back, since March 2002. That 10-point edge in optimism is its biggest since that 2002 poll.

Recent economic news likewise is punctuated with gains and setbacks alike. Employment has shown progress, with weekly initial jobless claims dropping to more than a two-year low early this month, and December unemployment slipping below 9.5 percent for the first time in more than a year. But weekly claims have risen the past two weeks.

Similarly, retail sales rose in December for the sixth consecutive month, according to data released last week. But, while nearly eight percent higher than a year ago, these gains were smaller than expected, and smaller than they’d been the previous two months. 

The CCI ratings have a long way to go. Just 27 percent call it a good time to buy things and 45 percent rate their personal finances positively -- both within a point of their 2010 averages. For the second week in a row 13 percent rate the national economy positively -- a result mirrored in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier Tuesday. While hardly robust, this is the most it’s been in more than two years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan042011

Consumer Comfort Index Rings in the Old -- But with Brighter Hopes Ahead

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Consumer views of current economic conditions start 2011 about as poor as they were across troubled 2010 -- but with tantalizing signs of potential gains ahead.

First the bad part: The ongoing Consumer Comfort Index stands at -45 on its scale of -100 to +100, its second-worst start to a new year in 25 years of weekly polling. That’s four points higher than at the beginning of 2009, but four points lower than in the first week of 2010. The CCI averaged -46 last year, and this week marks the 142nd week in a row it hasn’t exceeded -40, a record by far.

Yet other trends offer grounds for hope. The Labor Department last week said weekly initial unemployment claims fell below 400,000 for the first time since July 2008 -- and historically the CCI has closely correlated with this indicator. Moreover, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 93 points yesterday to its highest close since August 2008. The Dow and the CCI also are aligned closely, with a monthly correlation of .83.

There are more reasons to think better things may be in store. Expectations for the economy’s future, as apart from views of current conditions, improved last month. And as noted last week, 2010 was the first year since 2006 that the CCI improved upon its previous year’s annual average. That conjures images of its recovery from the last sharp downturn; after bottoming out at an annual average of -44 in 1992, the index improved to -37 in 1993 -- and then grew steadily until the next (milder) recession in 2001.

The CCI, produced by Langer Research Associates, is based on Americans’ ratings of their current finances, the national economy, and the buying climate. This week just 11 percent rate the national economy positively, 26 percent call it a good time to buy things and 46 percent say their personal finances are in good shape, fewer than a majority for a record 52nd week straight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec282010

Consumer Sentiment, 2010: At Least It Wasn't Worse

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Consumer confidence closes 2010 as befits its  second-worst year in a quarter-century of weekly polling, with recovery still an elusive goal in the jobs-starved fallout to the nation’s longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression.

There are hints of better days ahead, however tentative. The ABC News Consumer Comfort Index ends the year at -44 on its scale of -100 to +100, slightly better than its yearlong average for 2010 (-46) and 2009 (-48) respectively. Indeed, it’s the first year since 2006 that the CCI improved upon its previous year’s average.

The CCI, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, is based on Americans’ ratings of the national economy, the buying climate and their personal finances. This week just 12 percent rate the economy positively overall, 25 points below the long-term average; and 25 percent call it a good time to buy things they want and need, 12 points below the long-term level.

Forty-seven percent rate their personal finances positively; while typically that’s the highest of the three CCI components, it’s 9 points below its long-term average. Fewer than half of Americans have rated their finances positively since the first week of the year -- a record 51 weeks, breaking the 44-week record set back in 1992.

Consumer views largely echoed economic news this year -- occasional glints of hope in a general atmosphere of gloom. Unemployment has hovered near 10 percent, underemployment around 17 percent, with a modern record for long-term joblessness. GDP, while growing, hasn’t advanced fast enough to make itself felt in the jobs market. And the housing market remains dire.

On the other hand, the stock market improved in 2010, retail sales rose this holiday season and many corporations reported healthy profits. And as noted, as glum as consumer views are, pessimism’s eased -- a possible hint of a brighter 2011 ahead.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct262010

Consumer Research: Halloween Horror Show for Dems

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- With five days until Halloween and seven days before the election, consumer confidence is looking like a horror show for the political party in power.

The ABC News Consumer Comfort Index stands at -47 on its scale from +100 to -100, seven points from its low in nearly 25 years of weekly polls. It’s been this bad just twice in the week before an election: in 2008 and 1992, both years the Republicans were turfed out of the White House.

Now it looks like the incumbent Democrats’ turn to suffer. As in the past, economic discontent is fueling broad dissatisfaction with the status quo, and it’s aimed particularly at the party calling the shots in Washington.

Negative economic sentiment is further intensified by the depth and breadth of the downturn.

The CCI is based on Americans’ views of the economy, their personal finances and the buying climate. A whopping 92 percent rate the economy negatively, but majorities also say their own finances are hurting (53 percent), and they call it a bad time to buy (75 percent) -- and have all year.

Leading up to the election, the lack of a partisan gap in consumer attitudes is notable. This week, the CCI is -39 among Democrats and -44 among Republicans. On average, by contrast, the index among Republicans has been 31 points more positive than among Democrats in available data since 1990.

The usual gap has steadily narrowed since the recession began, and for the past two weeks Democrats have shown greater confidence than Republicans, albeit not significantly so. This flip has happened only 19 times in more than 1,000 weeks of polling.

Yet negativity among Republicans isn’t Democratic candidates’ chief problem. That lies with crucial swing-voting independents, among whom the CCI’s a dismal -51, worse than it is even among Republicans – and a number that may be the scariest yet for the president and his party.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct192010

Americans' Ratings of Economy Show Gloom 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two weeks before Election Day, the economic shot clock is running out for the Democrats.

With economic discontent the central motivator in the upcoming midterms, the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index this week stands at -46 on its scale of +100 to -100, tying its average for this year and a mere two points from its worst full year on record, 2009, in weekly polling since late 1985.

Neither is the outlook any brighter.  In a separate monthly measure, just 23 percent of Americans say the economy is getting better, while 34 percent say that it is getting worse.  The rest say it’s staying the same -- which is to say, still terrible.  Economic pessimists have outnumbered optimists in each of the last five months, in all but one month this year, and in all but three months since Barack Obama won the presidency two years ago.

It could be worse, and it has been before.  At this time in 2008, with the economy falling into the shaft, a record 82 percent of Americans said it was getting worse; it’s less than half that now.

Pessimists outnumbered optimists by an average of 37 points from March 2007 to March 2009; the gap’s been much slighter, an average of eight points, since then.

Optimism is a good predictor of future consumer confidence, albeit with some periods of discontinuity.  Since 2001, the gap between positive and negative expectations correlates at .68 with confidence three months later.  That suggests current sentiment, as measured by the CCI, is likely not to pick up until consumers become more optimistic about the future.

The CCI, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, comprises Americans’ ratings of the national economy, the current buying climate and their personal finances.  This week, 92 percent give the national economy a negative rating, 72 percent call it a bad time to spend money and 55 percent say their own finances are hurting.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio