Tuesday, September 12, 2017

12/9/17: Partisan Gap in Consumers' Perception of the U.S. Economy Explodes

A quick post, H/T @profsufi. Here is a chart from the U of Michigan consumer survey showing an explosion in partisan gap between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to self-reported consumer sentiment:

As Sufi stated in his tweet, "Rise in partisan bias in economic expectations according to Michigan Survey of Consumers data". Notably,

  1. Democrats negative perceptions are not at extraordinarily low levels. Similar applied for the Republicans during Obama 1 Administration and Carter Administration, and for Democrats in Carter Administration and Bush W2 Administration. So negative perceptions are not the key driver of the gap dramatic rise.
  2. Republican's optimism during the Trump Administration [short so far] tenure is the main driver of the partisan gap. 
  3. Current partisan gap reflects data that barely touches Trump Administration, with majority of economic performance figures still impacted heavily by the inertia inherent from the Obama Administration days. 
This has to fly in the face of anyone presenting Trump Presidency as the 'minority Republican' thing. Adjusting for the lags in data is impossible without looking at specific monthly series and down weighing observations closer to Obama tenure (I suggest authors do that), but it is clear that the true extent of Trump-specific gap has to reflect also some share of the Republican's perceptions of Obama 2 economic conditions. Which will most likely make the current gap even larger. 

Another point worth making is that the data above clearly shows just how subjective and unreliable (from the point of view of revealing actual quality of underlying economic conditions) the measures of Consumer Confidence are. 

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