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October 14, 2005
Household Inflation Expectations: No Improvement
For U.S. consumers the gloom persists, or says today's release of the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment. From Reuters:
U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly fell for a third month to the lowest in more than 13 years as concerns persisted about high energy prices and hurricane-related economic disruption.
The University of Michigan's preliminary index of consumer sentiment decreased to 75.4 from 76.9 in September. Televised scenes of widespread destruction from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the jump in energy prices that followed reduced consumer confidence last month to the lowest since a reading of 73.3 in October 1992...
The preliminary October current conditions index, which reflects Americans' perceptions of their financial situations and whether it's a good time to buy big-ticket items, fell to 95.7 from 98.1 in September. The prior reading was the lowest since December 2003.
The expectations index, based on optimism about the next one to five years, decreased to 62.4 from 63.3. That's the lowest since February 1992, when it was 61.8.
Even more to the point if you are a central banker, inflation expectations have not retreated from their large post-Katrina spike. Here's the picture of the average survey response:
Those average responses contain some rather large outliers, so we generally look to the median response as a better guide to what the representative survey respondent is thinking. That picture, however, provides no more comfort:
The long-term expectations are, of course, quite a lot more muted, and those are the ones we really care about. Still...
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