Consumer Confidence Remains Weak Going Into Midterms

More

After a hitting a seven-month low in September, U.S. consumer sentiment increased slightly in this month. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose by 1.6 points to 50.2 in October. While that's better than last month's value, it's still quite low on a historical basis. The Present Situation Index was virtually flat, increasing to 23.9 from 23.3, and the Expectations Index rose slightly to 67.8 from 65.5. Do these results have any implications for next week's midterm elections?

First, here's a chart showing some history for the Confidence Index:

confidence 2010-10.png

So although confidence rose a bit, it remains at the second lowest value since February. You might notice that there's a lot of volatility in these month-to-month readings, so it might be useful to try to smooth out this chart with a 3-month average. Here's how that looks:

confidence avg 2010-10.png

This shows the trend much more clearly. Confidence has really been pretty stable for the past year, except for when it rose briefly in the spring. But in recent months it has fallen back to near 50. Essentially, the optimism about a strong recovery expressed earlier this year has been lost, as Americans now don't feel much better than they did a year ago.

Democrats facing midterm elections next week probably don't have much to celebrate regarding today's sentiment news. A steep rise might have meant that Americans were more upbeat about the economy going into the polls. But October's slight uptick isn't particularly meaningful. Instead, it's more likely that voters are generally very displeased with the direction of the economy, considering that average sentiment has fallen back to 2009 levels over the past few months.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In