Apr 13, 2020 - Economy & Business

Why the steepest U.S. consumer sentiment drop ever is still too optimistic

Data: University of Michigan; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: University of Michigan; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. consumer sentiment suffered a record decline in April, according to the latest poll from the University of Michigan, but respondents are still irrationally confident about the future, the survey's director says.

What happened: The survey's gauge of preliminary consumer sentiment sank 18 points to 71, its lowest since 2011.

  • A measure of current conditions plunged by more than 31 index-points, nearly twice the previous record, while a measure of future expectations dropped by just under 10 points.

What they're saying: "[A]nticipating a quick and sustained economic expansion is likely to be a failed expectation, resulting in a renewed and deeper slump in confidence," Richard Curtin, Michigan's surveys of consumers chief economist, said in a statement.

  • "Consumers need to be prepared for a longer and deeper recession rather than the now discredited message that pent-up demand will spark a quick, robust, and sustained economic recovery."
  • "Continued declines in the seven-day average Sentiment Index can be expected in the weeks ahead (see the featured chart). Sharp additional declines may occur when consumers adjust their views to a slower expected pace of the economic recovery."

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