Michigan Consumer Sentiment Tumbles to 6-Month Low

The May final report for the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 59.2, down 4.3 (6.8%) from the April final. This morning's reading was above the forecast of 57.9.

The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index is a monthly survey of consumer confidence levels in the U.S. with regards to the economy, personal finances, business conditions, and buying conditions, conducted by the University of Michigan. There are two reports released each month; a preliminary report released mid-month and a final report released at the end of the month.

Joanne Hsu, the director of surveys, made the following comments:

Consumer sentiment slid 7% amid worries about the path of the economy, erasing nearly half of the gains achieved after the all-time historic low from last June. This decline mirrors the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, during which sentiment also plunged. This month, sentiment fell severely for consumers in the West and those with middle incomes. The year-ahead economic outlook plummeted 17% from last month. Long-run expectations plunged by 13% as well, indicating that consumers are concerned that any recession to come may cause lasting pain. That said, consumer views over their personal finances are little changed from April, with stable income expectations supporting consumer spending for the time being.

Year-ahead inflation expectations receded to 4.2% in May after spiking to 4.6% in April. Uncertainty, as measured by the interquartile range of these expectations has been elevated, averaging 7.8 over the last 12 months, but fell this month to 5.7, the lowest level of uncertainty in almost two years. This suggests that consumer views over short-run inflation may be stabilizing following four months of vacillation. Long-run inflation expectations inched up for the second straight month but remained within the narrow 2.9-3.1% range for 21 of the last 22 months. [