Friday, April 17, 2009

Confidence Game: Consumer, CEO and Investor Confidence April 2009 (Early)

This post combines the latest results of the Rueters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, the Conference Board’s Index of CEO Confidence and the State Street Global Markets Index of Investor Confidence indicators into a combined presentation that will run twice monthly as preliminary data is firmed.

These three indicators should disclose a clear picture of the overall sense of confidence (or lack thereof) on the part of consumers, businesses and investors as the current recessionary period develops.

Today’s preliminary release of the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers for March showed a continued slump for consumer sentiment with a reading of 61.9 dropping just 1.12% below the level seen in April 2008.

The Index of Consumer Expectations (an important component of the Conference Board’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators) increased to 58.9 climbing 10.51% above the result seen in April 2008.

As for the current circumstances, the Current Economic Conditions Index increased to 66.6 or 13.51% below the result seen in April 2008.

The latest quarterly results (Q1 2009) of The Conference Board’s CEO Confidence Index increased to a value of 30, but still remains near the lowest reading in the history of the index.

The March release of the State Street Global Markets Index of Investor Confidence indicated that confidence for North American institutional investors declined 4.8% since February while European confidence declined 3.2% and Asian investor confidence increased 2.5% all resulting in a decrease of 2.7% to the aggregate Global Investor Confidence Index which now rests 9.33% below the result seen last year.

Given that that the confidence indices purport to “measure investor confidence on a quantitative basis by analyzing the actual buying and selling patterns of institutional investors”, it’s interesting to consider the performance surrounding the 2001 recession and reflect on the performance seen more recently.

During the dot-com unwinding it appears that institutional investor confidence was largely unaffected even as the major market indices eroded substantially (DJI -37.9%, S&P 500 -48.2%, Nasdaq -78%).

But today, in the face of the tremendous headwinds coming from the housing decline and the mortgage-credit debacle, it appears that institutional investors are less stalwart.

Since August 2007, investor confidence has declined significantly led primarily by a material drop-off in the confidence of investors in North America.

The chart below (click for larger version) shows the Global Investor Confidence aggregate index.