85.4 Consumer Happies
since the reign of Henry IV, the University of Michigan has performed
studies measuring the nation’s consumer sentiment.
Do you know
what “consumer sentiment” is, exactly?
D.F. It’s 85.4.”
does it mean?
that would be, 85.4 . . . sentimations!”
You have no
idea what consumer sentiment means, do you?
“No. No one
doesn’t stop people from attempting to measure it. It doesn’t stop
others from trying to predict what it will be. And some people even go
so far as to declare themselves unsurprised when the results are
The U of M
researchers say the September “consumer sentiment” figure of 85.4 was
surprising insofar as the mood improved more than they expected from
August’s comparably dour 82. I remember having an 82-type day a couple
weeks ago! Nothing went right. Fortunately the next day was a solid 87,
so I’ve put it all behind me – thank you for asking.
anticipation-filled days before U of M was to announce its September
consumer mood ring color, Wall Street was all aflutter trying to predict
what oh what the number would be!
reports: “The median forecast of Wall Street economists polled by
Reuters was for a reading of 85.” When they’re not busy selling off
their stocks because Eva Longoria broke up with Tony Parker, they need
something to do. So they try to guess whether you have a heart full of
happy when you go to buy Doritos.
were four-tenths of a point off! I told you these people know nothing,
including, it would appear, what English words mean.
“I am not
surprised that the consumer confidence is a little bit better than
expected,” said James Glassman, chief U.S. economist for J.P. Morgan
Chase. He’s not surprised that the results were surprising?
believe I say strange things.
Glassman joins most other economists in theorizing that consumers are in
a better mood because gas prices are falling. That may very well be, but
are you still thinking about what you paid for gas when you head over to
Quiznos for your sub and the kid in the maize and blue Michigan jacket
is there to ask you how you’re feelin’ about consumin’?
What do you
mean that’s not how they find out? Then how do they? As Glassman
admits, whatever it is they do find out doesn’t really tell you
“I am sure
that is encouraging,” Glassman said. “But whether that means they spend
or not, consumer confidence doesn't tell. It's more of a poll about how
people feel about the world.”
the case, it seems they could save themselves a lot of time and just
boil it down: “Mr. or Ms. Consumer, how do you feel about the world?”
know, it’s the only hurtling ball we’ve got, but it doesn’t always
return my calls, and this has often made me feel resentful . . .
sir or ma’am. I need that in numerical form.”
didn’t you say so? 79.
Pretty harsh. Well, make it a great day.”
could save the rest of us a lot of time and stop telling us about these
surveys that mean nothing and tell us nothing. Unless, of course, they
want to survey me.
do they sell beets? Are you taking this down? . . .”
© 2006 North Star
Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column # DFK48. Request permission to publish here.