WASHINGTON, DC: As forecasters line-up to declare the financial Ides of March, Gallup's recently launched daily consumer confidence index is reflecting Americans' fast-changing mood.
The latest data show 83% of respondents fear the country's economic climate to be worsening.
Some 42% of those surveyed ranked the current economic conditions as “poor”, with only 18% classing them as “excellent” or “good”, equalling a previous low point in mid-March (the most pessimistic point since the company began taking its daily poll in January 2008).
Gallup conducts 500 random phone interviews every day, the results of which are combined with information from the previous three days. The offering aims to help economic forecasters (such as the Federal Reserve) analyze how consumer confidence is influenced by daily events.
The index previous reported on a montly basis, competing in a crowded marketplace with the likes of the Conference Board and Reuters, as well as the weekly Washington Post/ABC NewsConsumer Comfort Index.
Consumer spending makes up around 70% of US economic activity, and as low levels of consumer confidence can result in reduced levels of borrowing and spending, it is seen as a key indicator that the economy could be slowing.
Rick MacDonald, an economist at real-time market analysts Action Economics, praised the new poll, saying: "You can really pinpoint changes with this".
Other economists, however, argue that while daily information on consumer confidence is certainly useful, more established polls may currently have an advantage in allowing for longer-term retrospective comparison of data.
Data sourced from Business Week (online); additional content by WARC staff