Survey of Consumers Posts Record Low long-Term Inflation Rates, Record High Tariff Mentions
The Survey of Consumers preliminary reading on consumer sentiment eased from 100.0 in May to 97.9 in June. The index found the lowest rate for long-term inflation expected in its 40-year history, as well as a record-high for spontaneous unfavorable references to tariffs.
|Indicator||Prior Final||Consensus Forecast||Forecast Range||Prelim|
|Consumer Sentiment Index||100.0||98.4||96.7 to 101.0||97.9|
|Current Economic Conditions||110.0||112.5|
|Index of Consumer Expectations||93.5||88.6|
The consensus forecast was expecting the index to pull back in June to 98.4.
In early June, consumer sentiment reversed the May gain due to tariffs as well as slowing gains in employment. Some of the decline was due to expected tariffs on Mexican imports, which may be reversed in late June, but most of the concern was with the 25% tariffs on nearly half of all Chinese imports. Consumers responded by lowering growth prospects for the national economy, and as a consequence, reduced the expected gains in employment. Consumers anticipated an average long-term inflation rate of just 2.2%, the lowest rate the surveys have recorded since the question was introduced forty years ago. The sole component of the Sentiment Index that improved in early June was buying plans for large household durables. That improvement, however, was due to consumers favoring tariff induced buy-in-advance price rationales. In the past year, spontaneously unfavorable references to tariffs moved in tandem with unaided mentions of buy-in-advance rationales for household durables. Negative mentions of tariffs were spontaneously made by 40% of all consumers in early June, up from 21% in May and the prior high of 35% in July 2018; unaided references to buy-in-advance price rationales were mentioned in early June by 19%, up from 12% in May, and just below the 21% in March 2018 (when Trump first announced tariffs on home appliances). Overall, the data indicate that real personal consumption expenditures will advance by 2.5% in the year ahead.Surveys of Consumers chief economist, Richard Curtin