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Marketplace Tech
Money Matters

Consumer confidence vs. consumer sentiment

Paddy Hirsch Aug 28, 2012
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Shoppers walk down the Third Street Promenade outdoor shopping mall in Santa Monica, Calif.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

It’s the last Tuesday of the month, which means it’s the day we hear about how consumers are feeling about the economy from the Conference Board.

Today the Consumer Confidence Index says that consumers are downright gloomy.

But come Friday, you may hear something different about how consumers are feeling from the University of Michigan, which releases its Consumer Sentiment Index.

You may be asking yourselves what’s the difference between these two monthly metrics?

Sr. Producer Paddy Hirsch explains the difference in today’s Money Matters segment.

“Both measure consumers’ ability or willingness to buy stuff,” says Hirsch. “So say you’re thinking about buying a refrigerator. So the consumer confidence questions — the questions that they ask when they’re polling people — essentially ask you are you going to be happy buying a refrigerator in six months time. The consumer sentiment people, they’re asking you how you feel about buying a refrigerator right now. “


Paddy is looking for ideas for future Whiteboard videos. Got a topic you would like him to explain? Submit your ideas and you could win an autographed copy of his new book, “Man vs. Markets.” Click here to learn more.

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