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Economy

Economic Data (USA)

Friday, July 17, 2020

Consumer Sentiment: Preliminary Results for July 2020

The University of Michigan's Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS) - Preliminary Results for July 2020 was released today:

Predicted: 80.0
Actual: 73.2

  • Change from Previous Month: -6.274% (-4.9 points)
  • Change from 12 Months Previous: -25.61% (-25.2 points)

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  • Final ICS Reading for June 2020: 78.1

  • Final ICS Reading for July 2019: 98.4

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From today's report:

"...Consumer sentiment retreated in the first half of July due to the widespread resurgence of the coronavirus. The promising gain recorded in June was reversed, leaving the Sentiment Index in early July insignificantly above the April low (+1.4 points). Following the steepest two-month decline on record, it is not surprising that consumers need some time to reassess the likely economic impact from the coronavirus on their personal finances and on the overall economy. 
Unfortunately, declines are more likely in the months ahead as the coronavirus spreads and causes continued economic harm, social disruptions, and permanent scarring. Another aggressive fiscal response is urgently needed that focuses on financial relief for households as well as state and local governments. While financial relief is clearly needed for the most vulnerable households, that relief will not stimulate the extent of renewed consumer spending necessary to restore employment and income to pre-crisis levels anytime soon. No single policy could provide financial relief and stimulate economic growth, and without both, neither one could be ultimately successful.

Unfortunately, there is little time left on the political calendar for Congress to act as the election season is about to begin in earnest. Without action, another plunge in confidence and a longer recession is likely to occur..."

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The ICS is derived from the following five survey questions:


  1. "We are interested in how people are getting along financially these days. Would you say that you (and your family living there) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?"


  2. "Now looking ahead, do you think that a year from now you (and your family living there) will be better off financially, or worse off, or just about the same as now?"


  3. "Now turning to business conditions in the country as a whole, do you think that during the next twelve months we'll have good times financially, or bad times, or what?"


  4. "Looking ahead, which would you say is more likely: that in the country as a whole we'll have continuous good times during the next five years or so, or that we will have periods of widespread unemployment or depression, or what?"


  5. "About the big things people buy for their homes, such as furniture, a refrigerator, stove, television, and things like that. Generally speaking, do you think now is a good or bad time for people to buy major household items?"

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The ICS uses a 1966 baseline, i.e. for 1966, the ICS = 100. So any number that is below the 1966 baseline of 100 means that the folks who were polled recently aren't as optimistic about the U.S. economy as those polled back in 1966.

The ICS is similar to the Consumer Confidence Index in that they both measure consumer attitudes and offer valuable insight into consumer spending.

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The "predicted" figure is what economists were expecting, while the "actual" is the true or real figure.

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CHART: Index of Consumer Sentiment (Preliminary) - July 2020 Update
CHART: Index of Consumer Sentiment (Preliminary)
July 2020 Update
Monthly and 3-Month Moving Average

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