Support Marketplace

How consumers view the economy

The consumer confidence and consumer sentiment indices come out this week. Analysts will be looking to see what they tell us about the U.S. economic recovery.

Jeremy Hobson:  Later this morning, the Conference Board will give us its latest snapshot of consumer confidence. And on Friday we'll get a reading on consumer sentiment.

Both of which are kind of a fancy way of saying, "How do you feel about the economy?"

Here's reporter Dan Bobkoff.


Dan Bobkoff: Maybe it came in the mail, or a call at dinner: a survey asking questions like "Do you think this is a good time to buy a car or go on vacation?" And, "Is the economy getting better?" Each month, both surveys distill the answers into a measure of our economic mood.

Gus Faucher is the senior economist at PNC Financial Services, and he says the public is pretty good at seeing the present state of things, but:

Gus Faucher: I don't get the indication that consumers are good prognosticators about what's going to be happening six months from now or a year from now.

He says consumer confidence can signal turning points in the economy before they show up elsewhere. It's also a factor companies like dealership chain AutoNation use to make business decisions. But senior vice president Marc Cannon says companies like his have to look beyond consumer feelings.

Marc Cannon: What's happening in real estate? What's happening in what folks are buying? What are gas prices? What's the unemployment level?

Lucky for Cannon, much of that data also comes out this week.

In New York, I'm Dan Bobkoff for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...