The Conference Board reported last week that its Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 82.3 in March (up from 78.3), the highest reading since January 2008. But the two underlying components of the Index provided two different perspectives, as we will discuss today.
Basically, consumers as a group are feeling better and more confident about the economy and their present situation. However, when asked how they feel about their financial situation six months from now, most consumers are much less confident. About as many expect their situation to get worse as those who expect it to get better. That’s not good.
But before we get to that topic, let’s take a look at last week’s third and final estimate of 4Q GDP which showed a modest increase (2.6%) over the second estimate in February. We now know that the economy stalled a bit in the 4Q of last year, following growth of 4.1% in the 3Q. And it likely slowed even more in the 1Q of this year due to bad weather.
Following that discussion, I want to introduce you to a new breakthrough economic statistic that we’ll be hearing about for the first time later this month. It’s called “Gross Output” (GO) and is a measure of total sales volume at all stages of production. GO is much larger than GDP, the standard yardstick for measuring final goods and services produced in the economy. I’ll explain why GO is being introduced and why we investors need to pay attention to it.
Finally, President Obama’s disapproval rating has soared to a new all-time high, and his approval rating is falling once again. Americans continue to blame him for Obamacare, and 57% dislike his handling of the Ukraine situation.