Friday, August 28, 2009

Consumer confidence weak; finances abysmal

Via:  Yahoo finance

Consumer mood at four-month low

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consumer confidence fell to its lowest in four months in August on worries over high unemployment and dismal personal finances, though the mood managed to improve from earlier this month, a survey showed on Friday.

The Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers said its final index of confidence for August fell to 65.7 from 66.0 in July.

That was the lowest since 65.1 in April but above economists' expectations for 64.5 and also higher than this month's preliminary reading of 63.2

"Confidence rebounded in late August as consumers increasingly expected improved conditions in the national economy even as they reported the worst assessments of their finances since the surveys began in 1946," the report said.

Consumers rated the current economic conditions the worst since March, when the stock market hit 12-year lows. This index fell to 66.6 from 70.5 in July. However this was also an improvement from 64.9 earlier this month.

Consumers' one-year inflation expectations fell to 2.8 percent from July's 2.9 percent. Five-year inflation expectations also dropped to 2.8 percent from July's 3.0 percent.

This slight drop is consistent with the usual level of noise in the Consumer Sentiment series.  Given the unemployment rate forecast shown (or considerably worse) the cycle is set to stagger forward to 2013 or 2014 when I expect the debt “death spiral” to kick in.  In my view it is very unfortunate that the policymakers will probably use the facsimile of a normal expansion to do nothing significant to reform the political economy. 

Next “animal spirits” update September 4.


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