Tuesday, September 27, 2011

USA Consumer Confidence at Gloomy Levels (Chart) *Pessimistic outlook continues*


The Conference Board: Monthly Consumer Confidence Index

Official Statement by The Conference Board (September 27, 2011) The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined sharply in August, remained essentially unchanged in September. The Index now stands at 45.4 (1985=100), up slightly from 45.2 in August. The Present Situation Index decreased to 32.5 from 34.3. The Expectations Index edged up to 54.0 from 52.4 last month. The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by The Nielsen Company, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was September 15th.

Commenting on the Consumer Confidence Index 
Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “The pessimism that shrouded consumers last month has spilled over into September. Consumer expectations, which had plummeted in August, posted a marginal gain. However, consumers expressed greater concern about their expected earnings, a sign that does not bode well for spending. In addition, consumers’ assessment of current conditions declined for the fifth consecutive month, a sign that the economic environment remains weak.”

Trend The Consumer Confidence Index in September 2011 of 45.4 (preliminary) is mere +0.2 from last month's 29-month low, which was the lowest since April 2009 (40.8). The Consumer Confidence Index has decreased 3 of the past 5 months and decreased 4 of the past 7 months. The short-term trend, the intermediate-term trend, and the the long-term trend continue downwards.

Cycle History The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) reached a Post-Great Recession peak of 72.0 in February 2011. The Great Recession cyclical low was 25.3 in February 2009. The Pre-Great Recession peak was 111.9 in July 2007.

Monthly Consumer Confidence Index (Chart) Below is a chart of The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index from March 2005 through the latest month reported. The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. The Consumer Confidence Index has been at and continues at historically low levels.

Commentary The September 2011 Consumer Confidence Index of 45.4 (preliminary) is a small increase from the July plunge (-14.0), which was the largest monthly plunge since February 2010 (-10.1). The last monthly plunge larger was in October 2008 (-22.6), during the USA financial system crisis. Compared to the Pre-Great Recession peak of 111.9 in July 2007, consumer confidence continues at historically low levels regardless of the monthly ups and downs. The Consumer Confidence Index has dropped below the prior lows in the upper 40s in September and October 2010. The 2011 spike in oil prices, now abated, high unemployment, and the overall USA economic, fiscal and political issues and uncertainties have been the primary drivers for the downtrend. The debt ceiling debate and political results have also contributed to lowered consumer confidence.

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