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ABC Consumer Comfort Index Plunges To Year Lows On Surging Gas Prices

Tyler Durden's picture


Once again the ABC Consumer Comfort index indicates that it is leaps and bounds more relevant than the ADP Private Payroll number. With increasingly less relevant confidence indicators out of UMichigan and the Conference Board, which lately only seem to "poll" 20 people with a $1MM+ Schwab trading account, it is worth noting what a true polling index says about the economy. And it isn't pretty: "Soaring gasoline prices slammed consumer sentiment into reverse this
week, threatening the slow recovery in economic views that’s been under
way. With gas now at record high for a February in Energy Department data
back to 1990, the weekly Consumer Comfort Index dropped by an unusually
steep 5 points to -46 on its scale of -100 to +100.
It’s dropped that
far only 36 times in more than 1,300 weeks of ongoing polling since late
1985; this shift erases an equally unusual 5-point gain in early
January...After reaching -40 Jan. 9, the CCI is now at its low for the year, and
its lowest since Nov. 21.
It averaged -46 in 2010 and -48 in 2009; those
compare with a lifetime average of -14 and a best-year +29 in 2000. Its
single best week was +38 in January 2000; its worst, -54 in December
2008 and again in January 2009." So strange: unlike with stocks, where inflation is somehow supposed to raise confidence, inflation for the people somehow leads to a near record plunge in confidence. But who are we to believe in this centrally planned economy when every single data point is now fit to be discarded as nothing more than evidence of propaganda.

Charting the CCI:

And some more from ABC:

It’s likely no coincidence that the change in sentiment follows the federal government’s report yesterday that gas has jumped to an average $3.13 a gallon, up steadily from $2.74 six months ago, $2.65 a year ago and $1.89 two years ago this month.

The portent is not a good one. Gas prices tend to drop in winter, when demand is down, and rise in summer, when more Americans hit the road. Gas last approached this wintertime level in February 2008 – on its way to a record high of $4.11 the following July.

A repeat could be devastating to consumer sentiment.

We hope the Economy Ph.D.s from the "other two" indices read the following paragraph, as they seem to still be completely clueless about how the economy actually works:

Although the CCI and gas prices don’t always move in tandem, they’ve correlated significantly, at -.46, since 1990 (after detrending for time) – meaning that as gas prices go up, confidence tends to decline. And that relationship strengthens when fuel prices are rising: From February 2007 to July 2008, as gas soared from $2.19 to $4.11, the CCI tanked from  -1 to –41; the two correlated at a remarkable -.84.

That relationship suggests that confidence would be in a better place now were gas prices not rising – with this week’s CCI a warning siren for the slow, tentative recovery of late.

The following explains the Index' methodology:

The index, produced by Langer Research Associates, is based on Americans’ ratings of their personal finances, the buying climate and the national economy. Positive ratings of the buying climate and the economy took 3-point hits this week; 43 percent rate their finances positively and 25 percent call it a good time to buy, compared with long-term averages of 56 and 37 percent, respectively. Just 13 percent rate the national economy positively, 24 points below its average.

Among groups, the index dropped most sharply this week among singles, young adults – and among the wealthiest Americans, sliding into the negative zone in this customarily more positive group. They may be regretting those gas-guzzling SUVs.

Full report and associated data.



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Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:23 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Snow, bitchez!

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:49 | Link to Comment whatsinaname
whatsinaname's picture

But credit cards abound. Not to worry.

Credit debt made a surprising rebound indicating a strong recovery taking place. Its all good.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:18 | Link to Comment Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Are those credit cards issued by lying ass banks?

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:32 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

No, just snow bound lying ass banks.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:41 | Link to Comment Shed Boy
Shed Boy's picture

 "hundreds of thousands of customers signed up for a card that charges interest rates of up to 59.9% almost 700,000 Americans have signed up for the card. "


Party on!

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 03:01 | Link to Comment Hacksaw
Hacksaw's picture

The interest rate doesn't matter when you don't intend to pay.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:25 | Link to Comment lbrecken
lbrecken's picture

YAWN chart looks pretty good to me LT uptrend

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:29 | Link to Comment unwashedmass
unwashedmass's picture


ben's gonna get a really big surprise when gas hits $3.5 and a good portion of the peasantry can't afford to get to work.

you know, those unruly masses who don't have stock portfolios and don't know that times are really "good" now?

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:03 | Link to Comment Logans_Run
Logans_Run's picture

Ah, they don't need to go to work anyway because of the snow! Economic recovery Baby!

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:33 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Is that like some kinda cati-cornered crotch? Nice!

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:29 | Link to Comment NOTW777
NOTW777's picture

oil drops from 93 to 86 and gas prices increase

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:40 | Link to Comment SashaBelov
SashaBelov's picture

Ever heard about contango:


Or about crazy wti/brent spread:



And we dont know how high is premium for physical wti. And also we dont know how much of demand is at all met with wti supply.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:40 | Link to Comment FunkyMonkeyBoy
FunkyMonkeyBoy's picture

It's called profiteering. And the oil companies play that game best.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:30 | Link to Comment downwiththebanks
downwiththebanks's picture

Better than the banker-gangsters?

Or the politicians who sell their votes to the aforementioned B-Gs?

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:34 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Better than GE?  3.5% tax paid, and light bulbs that don't work.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:19 | Link to Comment I think I need ...
I think I need to buy a gun's picture

its all in the currency you know dennis gartman who I don't trust made a comment a few months back, oil will "never" hit 100 dollars a barrel. That doesn't mean we can't have 10 dollar gas if the currency is confetti or oil is referenced in trade by gold.

So the dollar system snapped in 08....I still feel something is coming all at once on the gold front. that tbt is breaking out so we won't be able to afford that debt service soon.

Fuckin JP Morgan comes out and they are accepting physical gold? The end of the current system must be near.



Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:54 | Link to Comment QQQBall
QQQBall's picture

Ask Garterman about his asshat "Cu will never see $4 again in my lifetime."

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:30 | Link to Comment Sophist Economicus
Sophist Economicus's picture

Tell'em to stop whinning and go out and buy 100 shares of NFLX

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:38 | Link to Comment Idiot Savant
Idiot Savant's picture

Or a high MPG vehicle. It's not like high fuel prices are a surprise. If you're still driving a low MPG vehicle, just 'cause, you deserve to suffer.


Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:16 | Link to Comment cossack55
cossack55's picture

C'mon, IS, how about a little compassion (but none of that compassionate fuckin conservative shit).  Some folks can only afford that beatup old V8 piece of Detroit shit.  High mpg 4-bangers pull premium prices.  You want some suffering for some desrving fucks, how about bankers/politicians.  I could watch those mealy-mouthed motherfuckers suffer for days.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:38 | Link to Comment Dr. Porkchop
Dr. Porkchop's picture

You don't have to buy a high tech vehicle to get good mileage. My old '89 carberated Corolla was amazing on gas. It was gutless as hell, but easy on the wallet. My Altima is also a 4-banger, but is much larger, more horsepower and is not as good on gas as my old Corolla was, but for its size and performance, it's OK. However, you can make your gas consumption better by going easy on the gas pedal. There is no prize for being first one to the next red light down the road. You can also drive less, but for some that's not really possible.

Also, stay out of drive thru lanes. When you're sitting in a drive thru, you're getting exactly 0 mpg.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:33 | Link to Comment downwiththebanks
downwiththebanks's picture

Seems pretty smart to drop $25k to save 4 MPGs on a car that loses half its value in about 4 seconds.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:38 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Better to do that than buy a '72 450 SL that loses it fuel system, thanks to pukenol.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:35 | Link to Comment crosey
crosey's picture

In the Ivy League intellectual circle, do they teach you what to do when the shit really hits the fan, and you're vastly outnumbered?

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 06:05 | Link to Comment StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

I hear Rebok makes some good running shoes... :>D

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:39 | Link to Comment FunkyMonkeyBoy
FunkyMonkeyBoy's picture

Ignored by the futures and will be ignored tomorrow also.

Bad is good and good is good.

Don't play this rotten game, stick to silver and gold, they are the only truth in this huge pile of corrupt dung.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:43 | Link to Comment Hedge Hunter
Hedge Hunter's picture

My comfort index would go up if someone gave me a benectomy and pulled some of this inflated crap out of my arse.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:46 | Link to Comment Pumpanddump
Pumpanddump's picture

Give me a... P!....give me an...O!...give me a...M!...give me an...O

What's that spell???



Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:49 | Link to Comment Scout6909
Scout6909's picture

A reality based

Will Dow 14,000 move the index back to "-14" or better?

Trillions upon Trillions and we have a -48? WTF? Where are the seasonal adjustments? Goldman needs to buy Langer Research and "modify" this report.  An adjustment here and there and voila, "+29"

What would this number be IF we didn't have any QE? (I doubt it would be much lower)


Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:51 | Link to Comment whatsinaname
whatsinaname's picture

Must be the snow. Come on folks. Cheer up..

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:52 | Link to Comment Tense INDIAN
Tense INDIAN's picture

MORE CHARTS>>>>>>>>>>>>>FRACTAL POWER anyone????

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:03 | Link to Comment John McCloy
John McCloy's picture


Wait till Ben launches us into outerspace with QE3. Were going to see 120 oil and $3.00 Hostess cupcakes and I would love to see World Emperor Bernanke explain to the world and not just America how we get to use monetary policy as a weapon of war. 

   It is akin to having the only H-Bomb in the world monetarily solely because we have the reserve currency. And this means we can level the quality of life of every other nation who pays closer to 75% of their wages for food as opposed to our 8%. This is what causes wars.

  What disgusts me is that Bernanke engages these policies out of vanity. He seeks only to have hundreds of books and textbooks written about his policies for the next hundred years..And here we are..a nerd with perfect SAT scores which is not such a rare feat...who has never cultivated a home grown business believing that reading the lies of text books created by those aligned with the corporates and corrupt being book smart and not street smart. 

  He does not have the capacity to consider history and all that it has taught us and the human reaction. 6 years from now he will be sitting on boards as an advisor receiving millions annually for his ability that is only insider information for how best to position one's self for the next Fed spending spree and the names in his Rolodex who can provide dates and times.

  He is a criminal.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:06 | Link to Comment RobotTrader
RobotTrader's picture

Crude pretty much crashed out the last few days, it has been trading like a yo yo.

Gas prices will probably go back down soon.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:09 | Link to Comment John McCloy
John McCloy's picture

Dow & S&P new recent highs

Crude tamed

PM's tamed

All what you would expect from a manipulated market and central planning and one which discourages prudence and rewards blind eyed risk. Cannot have a Dow @ 12,300 with 35.00 silver and 105.00 oil.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:22 | Link to Comment Population Bubble
Population Bubble's picture

Sure you can, when you're printing money!

Pop that bubble!

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:30 | Link to Comment John McCloy
John McCloy's picture

That is my point. When everything appears rigged against you and all correlations evaporate it is engineered. 

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:45 | Link to Comment lieutenantjohnchard
lieutenantjohnchard's picture

again, what a crock. it was but yesterday, less than 24 hours ago, you were calling for much higher oil (and by proxy gasoline) and gold.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:27 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Well....old topcall called that one right. Within a dollar from the top on uso. My energy stocks? Seems i.sold a bit early. They kept running. What gives? Im hanging on to psdv a while longer. Hopefully a nice relief rally.when the earnings call is as bad as expected, no worse!. So where is a potential easy pop now robo? Greenlighter? You can recycle boobie pictures robo. They were all good. No need to.always find something new.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:41 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Grab some AVL while you can afford it.  Breakout accomplished.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:51 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Thanks i will look at it. Take a look at a brief pop in ung, but i am agraid we might see 530 540 so play at your own risk and dont.get greedy or hold too long if you do.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:13 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Maybe if ODummer raises more taxes, the comfort index will improve - through suicide of respondents.

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 09:04 | Link to Comment Pee Wee
Pee Wee's picture

Just close your eyes and tap your heels together two times -- a fraud bailout support ticket is created for any mistakes.

Also, while your eyes are closed any rising prices on something you need don't count.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:16 | Link to Comment 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture


Could the FED be manipulating WTI because 87 sounds and is a lot better than 100?

And 3.25/gallon is better than 3.75?

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:17 | Link to Comment 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture


I'm watching Cramer. He is making sense. Call the rubber ambulance!!!!!!!

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:38 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

I hear ya. Cramer has a few good calls.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:17 | Link to Comment economists_do_i...
economists_do_it_with_models's picture

GREAT post!

Intra-day, $VIX made a new 3yr low today.  Pretty darn ironic considering everything that's going on in the world (Egypt, unemployment, food stamps.....snow - lol)

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:21 | Link to Comment traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

Not much volatility in manipulated markets...

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:21 | Link to Comment greenfire
greenfire's picture

Don't worry it's not "peak" oil.  It's just an "undulating plateau."

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:51 | Link to Comment That Peak Oil Guy
That Peak Oil Guy's picture

An undulating plateau with higher costs and greater competition for the resource.  I'm not worried one bit.


Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:57 | Link to Comment Rainman
Rainman's picture

yes, credit card payments are due from the Christmas junkbuying bender. Mrs. Rainman's comfort index has plunged too.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 19:43 | Link to Comment Robslob
Robslob's picture

Some simple comments:

"Fuck the poor!"  - History of the World Book I

Why bitch about PM's being manipulated...jesus christ load up while the straw men keep it so cheap for is catastrophe insurance anyway....

Oh yea, from Robo-Ho and Harry Wankster...Fuck the Poor "I am a contributor to the environment...I buy stocks!"

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:02 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

"Fuck Lindsey Lohan!" - not without a raincoat

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:41 | Link to Comment HedgeFundLIVE
Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:02 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

When do you expect to die?  And add a year.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:45 | Link to Comment topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Ung has always been good to me everytime it drops to 5.60 and lower. I think we got at least one more run to 5.90 before the month is out. Think i will play tomorrow if it doesnt.get away from me to fast. Remember if you missed that little daytrading move in psdv tell your wife an anonymous troll said to max out your credit cards and put you entire savings into ung tomorrow if it stays below 5.65. Hey five percent in a week isnt bad.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:07 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

 Gave up on it after some poster months ago brought up AVL.  13.30 target from 10, now.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:02 | Link to Comment sschu
sschu's picture

It is still amazing to see the difference between the Brent and WTI numbers.  I had always considered the WTI the number to track, but the spread is significant.  There was an article recently about this issue.

Not that anyone should think the WTI number is being suppressed somehow .... :-(

This is the game that is underway, pump the market and manipulate or fudge the numbers.  The S&P crosses 1,300, we are all rich!  Price of oil?  Oh, see is is still under $90! 

So it goes in a centrally planned economy.



Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:10 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Brent goes to EU, WTI is US.  Which one has demand?

How is the BDI, BTW?

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:11 | Link to Comment mynhair
mynhair's picture

Funniest pick from the Fox crew on Saturday:  BALT, 3 months ago.

11.6? to 8.6?

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:28 | Link to Comment minus dog
minus dog's picture

"devastating to consumer sentiment"

What planet does that guy live on?   Sentiment doesn't pay my bills, money does... and $4 a gallon gas doesn't leave me with much.

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 21:45 | Link to Comment ak_khanna
ak_khanna's picture

The only people who are feeling the economic recovery are the ones who are either direct or indirect beneficiar­ies of the bailouts or QE. They are the top few % of the population whereas the rest of the population are battered down with unemployme­nt, foreclosur­es and exhorbitan­t cost of living because of rising food and energy prices.

Hence it does not make sense for the companies to either hire people or expand their businesses as only the rich people on their own cannot create enough demand to replace the rest of the population­.


Tue, 02/08/2011 - 23:19 | Link to Comment max2205
max2205's picture

Please label this charts as irrelevant due to the FED and QE

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 23:28 | Link to Comment pleseus
pleseus's picture

Watch for that magic $ 4.00 a gallon gas.  That's when consumer spending will hit the skids.  Just like 2008.

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 02:32 | Link to Comment HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Let's say that I work at a chump mctemp job. I bring home 100 dollars a week net. If I drive 30 miles on one gallon to get to this dead end job for 5 days I burn two gallons for the day round trip.

3.30 Premiun Gas $6.60 per day times 5 = 33 dollars. I am still about 67 dollars ahead on my paycheck. If I bring my own coffee and finish the mission early enough in the morning and not need lunch.

Remember the vehicle is paid for already. If I had to make monthly payments then I am already insolvent at 6.60 and must stop driving 30 miles to work period.


What will it take for me to stop work?


Double the gallon cost to 6.60 one way, 13.20 per day round trip and I am at 66 dollars for gas spent and still 34 dollars on the net.


Somewhere around 8.50 a gallon or so, the cost of weekly commute will exceed the Net pay of my good for nothing temp shit job and I can stay home and park that gas guzzler.


Maybe someone will hire me at the same minium wage at some dead end job and I dont need to drive but a mile or so to work each day.


At that point I dont give a damn how high the gas prices go.

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 02:50 | Link to Comment robertocarlos
robertocarlos's picture

Canadians pay about $4.12 a US gallon for premium gasoline. I paid $1.40 a litre in 2008 or 2009. It's about $1.20 a litre today. I don't drive very much though.

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 03:03 | Link to Comment HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

In Suffolk near the north sea decades ago we take the old Intercity train to London daily for what was the equivlant of a 20 minute walk to the village station and a 4 dollar ride one way to Liverpool Station downtown.

Always enjoyed those old Deltics I think they were called the engines. They had a strong heart in those engines even at whatever high speed they were at in those days.


Beats Amtrack and thier crappy fares any day.

We still have a depot in our area since the late 1880's and no passenger train has stopped there since after the world war two. You had a bus, bike, car or motorcycle to get around in and all the associated money sucking taxes, fees and what not to all levels of government for the priveldge.

Wed, 02/09/2011 - 06:12 | Link to Comment StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Off-topic:  Money McBags does NOT always post his articles on this site, so visit:

and play catch-up.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!