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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:22 AM

13. About the Consumer Confidence Index

From Wikipedia:


In simple terms, increased consumer confidence indicates economic growth in which consumers are spending money, indicating higher consumption. Decreasing consumer confidence implies slowing economic growth, and so consumers are likely to decrease their spending. The idea is that the more confident people feel about the economy and their jobs and incomes, the more likely they are to make purchases. Declining consumer confidence is a sign of slowing economic growth and may indicate that the economy is headed into trouble.

Each month The Conference Board surveys 5,000 U.S. households. The survey consists of five questions that ask the respondents' opinions about the following:[2]

Current business conditions
Business conditions for the next six months
Current employment conditions
Employment conditions for the next six months
Total family income for the next six months

Survey participants are asked to answer each question as "positive", "negative" or "neutral". The preliminary results from the Consumer Confidence Survey are released on the last Tuesday of each month at 10am EST.

Once the data have been gathered, a proportion known as the "relative value" is calculated for each question separately. Each question's positive responses are divided by the sum of its positive and negative responses. The relative value for each question is then compared against each relative value from 1985. This comparison of the relative values results in an "index value" for each question.

The index values for all five questions are then averaged together to form the Consumer Confidence Index; the average of index values for questions one and three form the Present Situation Index, and the average of index values for questions two, four and five form the Expectations Index. The data are calculated for the United States as a whole and for each of the country's nine census regions.

How it is used

Manufacturers, retailers, banks and the government monitor changes in the CCI in order to factor in the data in their decision-making processes. While index changes of less than 5% are often dismissed as inconsequential, moves of 5% or more often indicate a change in the direction of the economy.

A month-on-month decreasing trend suggests consumers have a negative outlook on their ability to secure and retain good jobs. Thus, manufacturers may expect consumers to avoid retail purchases, particularly large-ticket items that require financing. Manufacturers may pare down inventories to reduce overhead and/or delay investing in new projects and facilities. Likewise, banks can anticipate a decrease in lending activity, mortgage applications and credit card use. When faced with a down-trending index, the government has a variety of options, such as issuing a tax rebate or taking other fiscal or monetary action to stimulate the economy.

Conversely, a rising trend in consumer confidence indicates improvements in consumer buying patterns. Manufacturers can increase production and hiring. Banks can expect increased demand for credit. Builders can prepare for a rise in home construction and government can anticipate improved tax revenues based on the increase in consumer spending.

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