Preliminary Results for January 2017
Jan Dec Jan M-M Y-Y
2017 2016 2016 Change Change
Index of Consumer Sentiment 98.1 98.2 92.0 -0.1% +6.6%
Current Economic Conditions 112.5 111.9 106.4 +0.5% +5.7%
Index of Consumer Expectations 88.9 89.5 82.7 -0.7% +7.5%
Next data release: January 27, 2017 for Final January data at 10am ET
Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin
Consumer confidence remained unchanged at the cyclical peak levels recorded in December. The Current Conditions Index rose 0.6 points to reach its highest level since 2004, and the Expectations Index fell 0.6 points which was lower than only the 2015 peak during the past dozen years. The post-election surge in optimism was accompanied by an unprecedented degree of both positive and negative concerns about the incoming administration spontaneously mentioned when asked about economic news. The importance of government policies and partisanship has sharply risen over the past half century. From 1960 to 2000, the combined average of positive and negative references to government policies was just 6%; during the past six years, this proportion averaged 20%, and rose to new peaks in early January, with positive and negative references totaling 44%. This extraordinary level of partisanship has had a dramatic impact on economic expectations. In early January, the partisan divide on the Expectations Index was a stunning 42.7 points (108.9 among those who favorably mentioned government policies, and 66.2 among those who made unfavorable references). Needless to say, these extreme differences would imply either strong growth or a recession. Since neither is likely, one would anticipate that both extreme views will be tempered in the months ahead. Nonetheless, it should be noted that among the majority of consumers who referred to neither positive nor negative views on government, the Expectations Index was a strong 90.9, supporting a real consumption growth of 2.7% in 2017.