Consumer Sentiment Slid 6.0% in November to 67.4

Ann Arbor, MI, November 24, 2021-November consumer sentiment fell 6.0% to 67.4, according to final results from the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers. 

This represents a 12.4% decline year over year. 

“Consumers expressed less optimism in the November 2021 survey than any other time in the past decade about prospects for their own finances as well as for the overall economy,” says Survey of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin. “The decline was due to a combination of rapidly escalating inflation combined with the absence of federal policies that would effectively redress the inflationary damage to household budgets. While pandemic induced supply-line shortages were the precipitating cause, the roots of inflation have grown and spread more broadly across the economy. One-in-four consumers cited inflationary erosions of their living standards in November. Rather than gradually easing along with diminished shortages, complaints about falling living standards doubled in the past six months and quintupled in the past year. Consumers anticipated declining inflation adjusted incomes and expected spending cutbacks due to rising inflation to slow the pace of growth in the national economy in the year ahead. With one important caveat: consumers have a strong desire to resume more normal holiday gatherings with family and friends, and to use their accumulated savings to fund their celebrations and gifts despite higher prices. While the holiday bye ends in January, the upward momentum in prices and wages will continue uninterrupted. Even when Biden's social infrastructure program is finally approved, it will not immediately ease inflation nor wage growth. The real transient issue is the rapidly closing window when effective policy actions can be accomplished by very modest nudges in interest rates and regulations. At present, consumers still expect inflation to revert to a much lower level over the next five years, but that anchor has begun to yield ground: long-term inflation expectations rose by 0.5 percentage points in the past year, to 3.0% in November. If expected long-term inflation continues to accelerate in the first half of 2022, it will make its containment more difficult, and even more so, if the rise continues into the last half of 2022. Moreover, a protracted inflationary period will bring a renewed urgency for expanding government relief payments from job losses to cover inflationary declines in living standards. There will be no more compelling precedent for consumers that the 5.9% inflationary adjustment in Social Security payments that will start in January 2022.”