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consumers and the economy

Consumers and the economy: What will 2017 bring?

Consumers are feeling better about the economy. Will an interest rate hike affect that sentiment?

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to meet March 14-15. Leading up to that meeting, there’s been lots of discussion and consternation whether the FOMC will hike interest rates in March. That appears likely. At press time, all indications are they likely will press ahead with a quarter-point hike.

The FOMC will be looking at lots of data, but most important will be indicators around their dual mandate—inflation and employment. Nevertheless, there’s clearly some progress on the consumer front.

Consumers have seemingly completed the long and arduous digging-out process from their financial-crisis induced shell-shock; they’re indicating they feel better about the economy’s prospects on a consistent basis.

To that end, the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index reached 98.5 in January – surpassing the recent high of 98.1 in January, 2015. Both are the highest readings since 2004. Clearly, those readings mark incredible progress versus the lows of the financial crisis with multiple readings in the mid-50s back in 2008. 

Perhaps more importantly, it seems there’s beginning to be some stability in the readings. Previously, advances in the economy have come in fits and starts – an enduring theme of the current recovery. But the 12-month moving average has remained fairly steady during the past 18 months or so. In fact, the 12-month average has trended above 90 since June, 2015.

Regardless of the FOMC’s decision, what’s your general assessment about the economy in 2017? How do you perceive the current state of the consumer in the United States? What’s your prediction about how that might trend in the coming months? What impact might that have on beef spending? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Nevil Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and serves as vice president of U.S. operations for AgriClear, Inc. – a wholly-owned subsidiary of TMX Group Limited.  The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TMX Group Limited and Natural Gas Exchange Inc.

TAGS: Business
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