Consumer Confidence, Bad & Getting Worse

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The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index has just posted another large decline.  The March readings came in at 64.5, which is well under what we had listed as 73.0 consensus estimates from Wall Street economists.  This looks like the lowest reading in 5-years. 

We would note that the cut-off date for this report was listed as last Tuesday or March 18, so this does not take into consideration much of the market gains and the additional Fed bailout plans seen last week and yesterday.

The reading is under growth today as the reading came in at 89.2 for the present situation.

The near-term is far worse with a reading of 47.9 on the Expectations Index.  This signals that the outlook for business conditions, jobs, and income prospects is quite pessimistic. It also suggests further weakening may be on the horizon.  In fact, that expectations index is so low that it is a 35-year low and challenges readings from the time of Watergate and the Oil Embargo.

The internal metrics are not improving either as those who claim business conditions are "bad" increased to 25.4% from 21.3% and those who claim business conditions are "good" have declined to 15.4% from 19.1%.  The consumer opinion of the job market grew more pessimistic with those claiming jobs are "hard to get" rose to 25.1% from 23.4% and those who claim jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 18.8% from 21.5%.

We’ve had a nice stock market return over the last week and some Fed help, but the trend in place here is still downward and that doesn’t reverse itself on a dime.

Jon C. Ogg
March 25, 2008