Consumer Confidence Declines Slightly in September

The latest Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was released this morning based on data collected through September 18. The headline number of 119.8 was a decrease from the final reading of 120.4 for August, a downward revision from 122.9. Today's number was above the consensus of 120.0.

Here is an excerpt from the Conference Board press release.

“Consumer confidence decreased slightly in September after a marginal improvement in August,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “Confidence in Texas and Florida, however, decreased considerably, as these two states were the most severely impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Despite the slight downtick in confidence, consumers’ assessment of current conditions remains quite favorable and their expectations for the short-term suggest the economy will continue expanding at its current pace.”

Putting the Latest Number in Context

The chart below is another attempt to evaluate the historical context for this index as a coincident indicator of the economy. Toward this end, we have highlighted recessions and included GDP. The regression through the index data shows the long-term trend and highlights the extreme volatility of this indicator. Statisticians may assign little significance to a regression through this sort of data. But the slope resembles the regression trend for real GDP shown below, and it is a more revealing gauge of relative confidence than the 1985 level of 100 that the Conference Board cites as a point of reference.

Consumer Confidence

On a percentile basis, the latest reading is at the 90th percentile of all the monthly data points since June 1977, unchanged from the previous month.