University of Michigan Reports Final Results of Its Consumer Sentiment Index for January

The University of Michigan on Friday (1-27-23) released the final results of its Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) for January 2023.

The Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to a reading of 64.9 in January, up from its reading of 59.7 in December. This is a month-over-month increase of 8.7% but down 3.4% year-over-year (67.2 in January 2022).

The Current Economic Conditions increased to a reading of 68.4 in January, up from its reading of 59.4 in December. This is a month-over-month improvement of 15.2% but down 5.0% year-over-year (72.0 in January 2022).

Finally, the Index of Consumer Expectations rose to a reading of 62.7 in January, up from its reading of 59.9 in December. This is a month-over-month increase of 4.7% but down 2.2% year-over-year (64.1 in January 2022).

In remarks and analysis prepared to accompany the release of the final January CSI, Dr. Joanne Hsu, Director of Surveys for the University of Michigan, said:

“Consumer sentiment confirmed the preliminary January reading, remaining low from a historical perspective but continuing to lift for the second consecutive month, rising 9% above December and reaching about 3% below a year ago. While the short-run economic outlook was relatively unchanged from last month, all other components of the index increased in January. The current conditions index soared 15% above December, with improving assessments of both personal finances and buying conditions for durables, supported by strong incomes, and easing price pressures. That said, there are considerable downside risks to sentiment, with two-thirds of consumers expecting an economic downturn during the next year. Notably, the debt ceiling debate looms ahead and could reverse the gains seen over the last several months; past debt ceiling crises in 2011 and 2013 prompted steep declines in consumer confidence.

Year-ahead inflation expectations receded for the fourth straight month, falling to 3.9% in January from 4.4% in December. The current reading is the lowest since April 2021 but remains well above the 2.3-3.0% range seen in the two years prior to the pandemic. Long-run inflation expectations remained at 2.9%, yet again staying within the narrow 2.9-3.1% range for 17 of the last 18 months and remaining elevated relative to the 2.2-2.6% range seen in the two years pre-pandemic. Consumers continued to exhibit considerable uncertainty over both long and short-term inflation expectations, indicating the tentative nature of any declines.”

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