Foul Mood?


This week saw the release of the Fed’s big annual research report, Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022. It’s chock full of great charts and analyses, covering everything from Income, Employment, Expenses, Banking and Credit, Housing, Student Loans, Retirement and Investments, and Overall Financial Well-Being.

Peter Coy fleshes out lots of the details here: “Unemployment Is Low, But So Is the National Mood.” He notes:

“The Fed report is consistent with other recent surveys showing a pessimism that’s somewhat surprising, given the recent reduction in the (still high) inflation rate, as well as the continued strength of the job market. (The unemployment rate in April, 3.4 percent, tied for the lowest since 1969.)”

It’s been a peeve of mine that partisanship has even infected the Michigan Sentiment surveys; the Fed survey shows a similar (but lesser) impact.

I find it a great opportunity to exercise my confirmation bias; I saw lots of things I nodded my head yes to but also found myself vehemently disagreeing with.

You may know the report for the annual media funfest over the question on Unexpected Expenses: “Could you cover a $400 emergency expense completely using cash?” (yes or no).

The media loves this issue — I find it to be a fair question but I dislike how the Press simultaneously sensationalizes it, and yet never seems to address the underlying causes. Curious that medical expenses are the biggest driver of bankruptcy in the United States but not in other wealthy Democracies.

But don’t get hung up on that, it is a big collection of sentiment surveys, and the Fed researchers do a nice dive sharing all of the details in a dry but useful fashion…



Is Partisanship Driving Consumer Sentiment? (August 9, 2022)

WFH vs RTO (February 16, 2023)

The Trouble with Consumer Sentiment (July 8, 2022)

Sentiment LOL (May 17, 2022)


Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022
Federal Reserve, May 2023


See also:
Unemployment Is Low, But So Is the National Mood
Peter Coy
NYT, May 24, 2023



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