Thursday, September 29, 2005

Confidence lagging 

Contemplating the same thing I did, Joshua Sharf says consumer confidence is a lagging, not a leading indicator.
What that says to me is that people's perceptions of the economy, and even of their own finances, are more a reflection of what they've been reading than of what they've been saving.

Applying this to our current situation, we shouldn't be surprised if personal spending doesn't rise much this month compared to last year, but we certainly shouldn't be projecting Christmas sales on the basis of this number.

Most of the evidence on the effect of bad weather says it's a two- to three-month shock, nothing more, when it comes to consumption. The more interesting part of the story is the supply-side effect. The whole intertemporal substitution hypothesis would be badly damaged if we did not see an increase in savings and work effort in the affected areas and in the country as a whole.