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ABC Consumer Confidence Misses Estimates, Stays Near Record Lows, Divergence With Conference Board Is Now Complete

Tyler Durden's picture


What a difference two presumably unmanipulated data series show. Earlier, the Conference Board showed that its index had hit the highest since September 2008, based on "improved economic conditions" (god bless them, and here we were thinking that 17.3% unemployment is indicative of just slight deterioration). However, after the close, ABC Consumer Comfort came out, and, lo and behold, demonstrates that another index of so-called consumer confidence in the current "economic improvement" is at an all time low. So seriously, who should we believe anymore? And is it time the Census bureau released an index that keeps track of lies, manipulation and discrepancies between reality and "economic index indicators?"

From the just released ABC Consumer Comfort index, which came in at -48, a whisper away from the all time low of -54 and missing expectations of -45.

To find Barack Obama’s woes in advance of his first State of the Union address, look no further than consumer confidence: A year to the week after hitting its record low in the past generation, it’s barely any better.

The ABC News Consumer Comfort Index stands at -48 on its scale of +100 to -100, essentially flat the past three weeks after a steep start-of-year dive. It’s within sight of its all-time low, -54 this week last year. That compares to a long-term average of -13 in 24 years of weekly polls.

Views of the national economy are the chain around confidence’s ankle; more than nine in 10 Americans continue to say the economy’s in bad shape. The other two components of the index aren’t quite so dire, but hardly good: More than three-quarters rate the buying climate negatively and more than half say the same of their own finances.

Somehow the commentary provided by ABC and its pollers doesn't quite jive with that of the CONference Board. But in this country why should anything surprise us? Everything is just spin, lies and manipulation, set forth with the hopes that yet another unemployed person will throw their money away on a Kindle. And while we are waiting for Apple to provide an iUnemployment iBenefits service which magically doubles every unemployed American's income, ongoing data fudging will only grease the computers that only care about headlines without actually realizing that every headline is as hollow as the coffers of the US Treasury.

Confidence is closely aligned with unemployment, now in double digits for three months, a first since 1982-1983. Housing prices don’t help; the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports home values down by 5.3 percent since last year in 20 of the nation’s largest cities.

INDEX – Forty-seven percent of Americans rate their personal finances positively, down from 51 percent three weeks ago; it’s 10 points below its long-term average and has been below a majority for 76 of the last 79 weeks, a record.

Twenty-three percent call it a good time to spend money, down 7 points since the peak of the holiday shopping season and 14 points worse than average. And only 8 percent rate the national economy positively, 30 points below average and in single digits for nine weeks straight.

TREND – The index has taken a turn for the worse after a brief run-up. It reached -41 Jan. 3, a 16-month high, only to fall back sharply to -47 a week later – a very unusual 6-point one-week slide. This week’s rating of -48 matches its average since 2009.

The CCI has been below -40 for a record 92 consecutive weeks. And this week the long-term average inched down a point, to -13, a number that rarely moves given over 1,250 weeks of data.

GROUPS – The index as usual is higher among better-off Americans, but has been negative across the board for 48 weeks straight, the longest such run in available data since 1990.

And the sad truth continues:

NATIONAL ECONOMY – Eight percent of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good; it was 9 percent last week. The highest was 80 percent Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 4 percent Feb. 8, 2009.

PERSONAL FINANCES – Forty-seven percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was 45 percent last week. The best was 70 percent, last reached in January 2000. The worst was 39 percent June 28 and 21, 2009.

BUYING CLIMATE – Twenty-three percent say it’s an excellent or good time to buy things, the same as last week. The best was 57 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 18 percent, last reached Oct. 19, 2008.

Of course, don't look for any of these numbers to make CNBC ever.



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Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:30 | Link to Comment ghostfaceinvestah
ghostfaceinvestah's picture

Serious question - does anyone understand these surveys enough to explain why they are getting such different results?  I tend to be a bit of a skeptic, and was very surprised to hear the release this morning was improved, but I am willing to listen and learn, there must be something going on to explain the divergence.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:37 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 21:52 | Link to Comment Miles Kendig
Miles Kendig's picture

Part of the acknowledged difference is rooted in the conference boards far heavier incorporation of attitudes of the future (six months hence) than ABC which is more focused upon current conditions.

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 08:08 | Link to Comment 1984
1984's picture

The conference Board only sampled bankers and their relatives and friends.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:32 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:33 | Link to Comment MarketTruth
MarketTruth's picture

Are you there yet?


Tired of all the lies and deception?


Are you ready to finally pull out all your funds from banks?


Sell off all stocks/trades?


Perhaps even go on a labor strike with your co-workers and picket your State government?


Or are you just sitting there like a good sheeple?


"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
-- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 20:17 | Link to Comment VegasBD
VegasBD's picture

Already did it.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:34 | Link to Comment phaesed
phaesed's picture

It's high time any Government data agencies be disbanded and given to private institutions. Whenever you trust a government to keep track of the past, you display your ignorance of history. The census should be done by a private company, it's far too easy to do things with the internet these days. Just like proxy voting should be a thing of the past and all shareholder votes should be done online.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:54 | Link to Comment CONners
CONners's picture

Regarding sole reliance on private institutions for tracking data, we should keep Moody's for their outstanding, unbiased record, free of any conflict of interest. Countrywide could provide data on MBS. I nominate Worldcom for telecom stats and Enron for Energy and for the financial world I would trust a well established firm such as J.P. Morgan or a God fearing name like Goldman Sachs.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 20:10 | Link to Comment phaesed
phaesed's picture

Moodys is government mandated. There are plenty of private firms who supply excellent data sets for low prices. Check shadowstats or Egan Jones. *yawn* I don't trust government and I'm a huge corporate basher.... but the truth is you cannot have the government keep track of statistics, private corporations would in the end be better.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 20:01 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:38 | Link to Comment deadhead
deadhead's picture

Great article and please keep publishing ABC.  Thank you.

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 19:49 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 20:12 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 20:28 | Link to Comment no cnbc cretin
no cnbc cretin's picture

It's time to call it, we're in a Depression, and the likes this country has never seen.

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 00:28 | Link to Comment Cursive
Cursive's picture


Tue, 01/26/2010 - 21:20 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 22:59 | Link to Comment glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

A 401(k) pusher was at work today and had the gaul to suggest that the recession had ended. I laughed at her and said, "you can't be serious...the recession has ended?"

I then politely asked, "do you offer any investment options that aren't funded in US dollars?" She honestly didn't know what to say, so I suggested that she check in with the Fed Govt. and see how much the national debt had ballooned in the past year...clueless...honestly clueless.

And she's out pushing retirement options...ha ha!

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 09:00 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 23:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 01/26/2010 - 23:47 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 01/27/2010 - 00:00 | Link to Comment Anonymous
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