ABC Consumer Index Drops To Lowest Reading Since Fall, Divergence From UMich Propaganda Reading At Record

Tyler Durden's picture

The most recent ABC Confidence index came in at -49, just five points higher than the all time low of -54 set last January and is now at the lowest level since last fall. The prior week reading was -48, and the consensus for this week was -45, implying a substantial miss from expectations. The persistent deterioration in this index is increasingly at odds with other consumer readings, considering that the other two CONfidence indices, the UMichigan consumer sentiment and the Conference Board consumer confidence index both increased in January from the December readings. Currently the relative divergence between the ABC index and the UMich and Conference Board is at record wides. We sincerely hope that the government will soon come out with an index that tracks the credibility of all its other indexes.

From the ABC press release:

Americans’ ratings of the buying climate have softened to their worst level since fall, holding consumer confidence near its record low.
The ABC News Consumer Comfort Index stands at -49 on its scale of +100 to -100, in a 2-point range the past four weeks and just 5 points from its all-time low in 24 years of weekly polls, -54 last January. Its long-term average is -13.
Improved ratings of the buying climate led an advance in December, with the CCI reaching -41 the first week of January. That’s evaporated: Seventy-eight percent now call it a bad time to buy things they want and need, up 8 points in seven weeks.
The other two components of the index have been steadier, but remain weak. Fifty-five percent rate their own finances negatively and 91 percent say the national economy’s in bad shape.

Readings across the index' main verticals were as follows:

INDEX – Views of the economy overall are the worst of the index’s three measures. Only 9 percent of Americans rate it positively, 29 points below the long-term average and in single digits for 10 weeks straight.
Just 22 percent call it a good time to spend money, 15 points worse than average. And 45 percent rate their personal finances positively, 12 points below average and below a majority for 77 of the last 80 weeks.

TREND – The index has been below -40 for a record 93 consecutive weeks. It’s just a point above the -50 mark, a level its reached 23 times since the recession began in December 2007, compared with just once previously, in February 1992, in weekly polls since December 1985. As noted, the CCI showed faint signs of life late last year, reaching -41 Jan. 3, a 16-month high. But it took a sharp 6-point tumble the next week and has been basically flat since.

GROUPS – The index as usual is higher among better-off Americans, but has been negative across the board for 49 weeks straight, the longest such run in available data since 1990. It’s -6 among those with the highest incomes but -75 among those with the lowest, -39 among people who’ve attended college vs. -70 among those who never finished high school (their lowest since November), -46 among homeowners but -61 among renters (their lowest since October) and -47 among men vs. -52 among women.
Notable this week is the racial gap, -51 among whites (a point from their lowest ever) vs. -47 among blacks; it’s only the 8th time since 1990 the index has been numerically higher among blacks than whites (five of those since President Obama’s inauguration).
Partisan gaps have been narrower this year. This week the index is -46 for Republicans vs. -51 for Democrats (and -49 for independents). That 5-point Republican-Democratic gap compares with an 18-point gap last year, 41 points in 2008 and 32 points long-term.

The fact that an increasingly wide margin between "confidence" indexes can possibly exist is an observation that surpasses mere methodology constraints. At this point it is obvious that procyclical indices like the UMich, which are primarily driven by a reaction to the market levels, will continue growing ever higher, which in turn will drive the low-volume algos to push the market higher yet, creating a closed loop. Yet for all those who couldn't care less about the stock market, which is a sizable portion of the population the sad economic reality is getting worse and worse.

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bugs_'s picture

I'm not deep captured so I'm miserable.

I am deep captured and I'm happy about it - so what!!


Chopshop's picture

ask patty 'yuk-yuk' / 'hannibal' byrne ... how that deepcapture is working for him.

can anyone name the other dutch ipo since '02 ??  OSTK and ....

Anonymous's picture


For my prize, I would like a 3 million dollar adjustable mortgage (thx Fannie) on a 2 bed 2 bath condo and I'll even document my 50k salary to qualify for the loan. Or can anyone confirm if Obama still thinks it's a great time to buy stocks so I can dump my life savings into the market at these bloated prices.

Joe Sixpack's picture

"Currently the relative divergence between the ABC index and the UMich and Conference Board is at record wides. "


Can we write derivatives contracts on the spread? 

Anonymous's picture

I am sure that since there are so many frat. bros. and consultants from Goldman on the UMich and Conference Boards, that they will be happy to write anything you want, as long as AIG insures it.

cougar_w's picture

The indices ought to be going up; everyone I know is confident ... that we are fuxored big time.

Me and the confidence index did your mom. Twice.

Hey, I notice that uneducated people are less confident these days than educated people. Goes to show that just because you went to college doesn't mean you have the sense to get off the tracks.

So why are black people more confident than whites? Maybe it's because they sense that the playing field is about to get a whole lot more level. This March, all of America becomes a broken down suburb of Detroit.

Thank you thank you you've been a great audience. I'll be here all week. And don't forget to tip the waitress.

JR's picture

I have an “educated” information engineer living in my home with me these past few weeks looking for a job.  It is getting harder and harder for my unemployed friends to find work—ranging from teachers to engineers to management.  I’ve employed a mechanical engineer part time whose hours have been cut; he can no longer provide for his family.  A consultant engineer I work with is down to one job.

And Lawrence Summers, Obama’s economic advisor, notes that, in the United States, one in five men aged 25 to 54 is now jobless.

Gad, I hate them!



Anonymous's picture

ism, ism!

Edna R. Rider's picture

A contrarian indicator?  He he.

Hondo's picture

ABC news correlated much closer to actual consumer consumption as reported in the soon to be revised GDP numbers.

Racer's picture

Key difference between the UoM and ABC and how they are calculated?


One is released during market hours and one much after close... guess which one is the better one.......

Anonymous's picture

"One is released during market hours and one much after close... guess which one is the better one......."

That be funny.

I guess it means the todays Redbook was correct.

Anonymous's picture

A New York Lawsuit With Promising Implications for Chicago Homeowners January 6, 2010 Posted In: Foreclosure Defense , In The News , Mortgage Foreclosure Update By Sulaiman & Associates on January 6, 2010 9:27 AM | Permalink In November 2009, the Legal Aid Society of New York filed a class action suit against Aurora Loan Services, L.L.C., Timothy Geithner, and other Federal officials. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, takes an interesting approach. First and foremost, any individual who is eligible for a loan under the Federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and whose loan is serviced by Aurora is likely a member of the class. This means that an untold number of borrowers in Chicago, greater Cook County, and across the state of Illinois may be part of the class. Some of our own clients may very well fall within the class. At some point in the future, those whose loans are serviced by Aurora may very well receive a notice telling them that they may opt-out of the class if they wish to pursue their own lawsuit. More thoughts on the complaint after the jump. The complaint itself is fifty-one pages of light reading. In order to spare you the full read, here's our back-of-the-napkin take on what the Legal Aid Society is claiming. HAMP is a program that stems from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Its goal is to get eligible borrowers into trial loan modifications, that ultimately convert to permanent loan modifications. In turn, this allows borrowers to keep their homes. As we've mentioned before, the HAMP program hasn't been a resounding success so far. A very small number of applications actually convert to permanent modifications. According to the Treasury, only 31,382 mortgages out of 759,058 trial modifications have converted to a permanent modification. The Legal Aid Society's complaint places the burden of this failure on lenders like Aurora and Federal officials. It notes that mortgage servicers that participate in HAMP must sign a contract with Fannie Mae "as Financial Agent of the United States Government." (Complaint p. 3-4.) This contract describes the process and guidelines for the HAMP program. Among other obligations, servicers must evaluate non-Governmental Sponsored Enterprise loans for the program, forestall any foreclosure filings for home owners attempting to participate in the program, and must not offer forbearance agreements or require borrowers to waive legal rights. (Complaint p. 3-4). The complaint continues to outline ways in which Aurora allegedly violated its contract. The complaint also takes Treasury and Fannie Mae officials to task for failing to implement procedures that protect the due process rights of borrowers. It points to a supplemental directive that only took effect on 1 January 2010 as evidence of this lack of procedural protection. Prior to the beginning of this year, servicers that had signed a HAMP contract were not required to provide detailed reasons for denial of a loan modification. This, in turn, has made it difficult for borrowers to challenge such a determination. Given the nature of the contract and the relationship of the parties, the complaint further alleges that all of this activity took place under the color of federal law. This key phrase is how the complaint attaches its due process claims to a private entity (Aurora) and a quasi-Governmental entity (Fannie Mae). All of this background leads up to what I consider the most interesting and novel approach the complaint takes -- establishing standing for the named plaintiffs and the rest of the class. Since home owners do not sign this HAMP contract, they cannot normally enforce that contract. However, the complaint argues that the home owners are the intended third party beneficiaries of the contract. The contract may provide some benefit to the servicers and Fannie Mae, but the intention of HAMP was to assist home owners. In turn, this makes the home owners intended beneficiaries of the contract. Because the home owners have a vested interest in the benefits of the contract, they also have a right to sue to enforce the contract. This represents a very interesting legal argument -- something that would likely have been poo-pooed as interesting legal theory, the domain of a student comment in a law review, not the lynch pin of a Federal class action lawsuit. It also begs the question -- what other servicers have signed these HAMP contracts? The complaint mentions that 60 banks have signed up. If this has legs, it is very much worth pursuing on a local level. Suing Federal officials may not ever lead to their personal liability (the immunity of Federal officials is a pretty specific area of Constitutional law), but holding the lenders accountable for their often byzantine approach to the HAMP process may create some leverage for individuals seeking to keep their homes.

KevinB's picture

We sincerely hope that the government will soon come out with an index that tracks the credibility of all its other indexes.

Not to nitpick, but aren't the three indices created by Reuters, ABC News, and the University of Michigan? None of those are government organizations that I can see.

Anonymous's picture

Barack Obama: Listen To What The People Want

Expose, if you dare or care, the underbelly of this government that rules us. The corporate conspirators that conspire and aspire to control it all. Open up the Federal Reserve to audit and disclosure so that we know who the owners are and what they are doing with the money they create and make from us in the form of interest which much of our tax dollars go to. Give the power of our money back to us and into the hands of a Treasury Department run not by "one of those".

Free this country from the slavery we - on Main Street - are all victim to. Abolish the "ruling" class and re establish the middle class. In a country as great and mighty as ours, there should be no poor (homeless and hungry).

There will always be an upper class - the rich - but let them become rich through the fruits of their labor, imagination and creativity not by robbing the rest of us. I don't advocate robbing from the rich to give to the poor, but curtail and punish those in the "elite" class so they can no longer rape, pillage and plunder the population at large and at will.

Bring back the usury laws so that the "too big to fail" banksters can no longer charge annual rates of interest of over 30%. Eighteen percent worked so very well for so many years and even then most rates were not in the double digit category. The banks were solvent and profitable then. Wall Street was working well and profiting as well.