The ABC Consumer Comfort Index, which is by far the most pessimistic of all confidence trackers, and which conveniently comes out each Tuesday after market close, and just came in at -49 "has been iced in a 3-point range since early January, averaging -48 on its scale of +100 to -100 this year. That ties last year’s average, the worst on record in weekly polls since late 1985." Digging into the data reveals why the non-millionaires in America - those that do not have access to the government's record excess liquidity - are just plain unhappy about the economy: "The index’s individual components tell the story: Half or more Americans have rated their personal finances negatively in 91 of the last 97 weeks. Fewer than one-third have rated the buying climate positively steadily since November 2007, about when the recession began. And at least eight in 10 have rated the economy negatively since late March 2008, stuck in a 4-point range since last April." While we have little doubt UMich Confidence and Conference Board will show dramatic improvements, as these two are merely a lagging market indicator, the question of just whom these various indices tracks, is becoming increasingly relevant as even the divergence between assorted confidence levels reaches record levels.
More from the press release:
INDEX – The CCI has been below the -40 mark for a record 98 weeks. It’s now 36 points below the long-term average, -13, and has been below that average for a remarkable 125 consecutive weeks – well over two years. It languished longer below its long-term average just once before, in a more than four-year stretch from April 1990 to December 1994.
Among the individual components of the index, just 8 percent of Americans view the economy positively, the fifth straight week at this level, the 15th straight week of single-digit ratings and 29 points below its long-term average.
For nine weeks straight at least half of Americans have rated their own finances negatively, and a quarter or fewer have called it a good time to spend money.
GROUPS – The CCI is -11 among the highest-income Americans vs. -65 for those with the lowest incomes; however this 54-point spread is the narrowest it’s been since November. Among other groups, the index is -41 among people who’ve attended college vs. -71 among those who never finished high school, -43 among homeowners but -67 among renters, and -57 among Democrats vs. -47 among Republicans. The index is closer than usual among men and women, - 45 vs. -51. And it’s notably low, -52, among 18- to 34-year-olds.
Here’s a closer look at the three components of the ABC News CCI:
NATIONAL ECONOMY – Eight percent of Americans rate the economy as excellent or good for the fifth straight week. The highest was 80 percent Jan. 16, 2000; the worst, 4 percent Feb. 8, 2009.
PERSONAL FINANCES – Forty-four percent say their own finances are excellent or good; it was the same 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-five percent say it’s an excellent or good time to buy things; the highest it’s been since the first week of the year. The best was 57 percent on Jan. 16, 2000. The worst was 18 percent, last reached Oct. 19, 2008.