Consumer Sentiment Soars Toward Trump-Era Highs

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Americans are feeling great about the U.S. economy.

The University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment jumped to 99.2 in its preliminary read for December from a final November reading of 96.8. Economists polled by Econoday had expected a much more modest tick up to 96.9. The average over the past three years has been 97, a level indicating a heightened level of consumer happiness and optimism.

The highest reading of the Trump presidency was 101.4, hit in May 2018.  That was the best since January of 2004.

“Consumer sentiment rose to the upper end of the favorable range it has traveled since the start of 2017,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist.

Americans are feeling much better about current conditions and their outlook for the future approved, according to the survey.

The measure of consumers’ views on current conditions rose to 115.2 in December from 111.6 in November. The gauge of expectations improved to 88.9 to 87.3

Impeachment seems to be having no measurable effect on consumer attitudes.

“While impeachment has dominated the media, virtually no consumer spontaneously mentioned impeachment in response to any question in early December,” Curtin said.

There’s a huge partisan gap in expectations for the economy. Democrats are gloomy while Republicans are highly optimistic. This gap is much wider than the gap seen during the Obama years, when Republicans were only slightly more pessimistic than Democrats.

Independent voters, however, are gaining confidence about our economic prospects, a good sign for the economy.

“While the implications of the economic expectations of Democrats and Republicans are clearly exaggerated, the Independents, who represent the largest group and are less susceptible to maintaining partisan views, hold very favorable expectations, indicating the continuation of the expansion based on consumer spending,” Curtin said.

 

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