Friday, December 8, 2017

Goldilocks Consumer

The University of Michigan just released its preliminary December read on U.S. consumer sentiment (an input to the consumer sentiment component of our macro model). The headline number, while plenty high (96.8), came in at the lower end of economists' estimates. 
  • Forecast range 96.5 to 102.0 from 57 estimates...
Folks, on balance, feel good about their present circumstances: 
From the survey...
  • Current economic conditions index rose to 115.9 vs. 113.5 last month.
But not quite as good (as last month) about their prospects going forward:
  • Expectations index fell to 84.6 vs. 88.9 last month.
However, looks like politics -- or political ideology -- are at play. Not that folks, regardless of party affiliation, shouldn't wonder (the hype, from both sides, is palpable): 
  • The largest decline in long-term economic prospects was recorded among Democrats, which reflected their concerns about the impact of the proposed changes in taxes.
As for the marketability of their largest asset, consumers say home selling conditions are about as good as it gets:
  • Home selling conditions were near the best levels in two decades due to home price gains and income certainty.
And that their household income is on the rise:
  • 44% cited higher household incomes (when asked to explain recent changes in their finances), the highest level since 2000, and not far below the all-time peak of 50% set in 1965 and 1966.
And that they expect inflation to pick up just a bit:
  • Expected change in median prices during the next year rose to 2.8% vs. 2.5% last month.
  • Expected change in median prices during the next 5-10 years rose to 2.5% vs. 2.4% last month.

Looks like Goldilocks has found her porridge. And, for the moment, she's thinking the bears are a long way from home...

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