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Consumer sentiment, the economy, and the news media

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Author Info

  • Mark Doms
  • Norman Morin

Abstract

The news media affects consumers' perceptions of the economy through three channels. First, the news media conveys the latest economic data and the opinions of professionals to consumers. Second, consumers receive a signal about the economy through the tone and volume of economic reporting. Last, the greater the volume of news about the economy, the greater the likelihood that consumers will update their expectations about the economy. We find evidence that all three of these channels affect consumer sentiment. We derive measures of the tone and volume of economic reporting, building upon the R-word index of The Economist. We find that there are periods when reporting on the economy has not been consistent with actual economic events, especially during the early 1990s. As a consequence, there are times during which consumer sentiment is driven away from what economic fundamentals would suggest. We also find evidence supporting that consumers update their expectations about the economy much more frequently during periods of high news coverage than in periods of low news coverage; high news coverage of the economy is concentrated during recessions and immediately after recessions, implying that "stickiness" in expectations is countercyclical. Finally, because the model of consumer sentiment is highly nonlinear, month-to-month changes in sentiment are difficult to interpret. For instance, although an increase in the number of articles that mention "recession" typically is associated with a decline in sentiment, under certain conditions it can actually result in an increase in various sentiment indexes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2004-51.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-51

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Keywords: Consumer behavior ; Consumption (Economics);

References

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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Disagreement about Inflation Expectations," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2011, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Toda, Hiro Y. & Yamamoto, Taku, 1995. "Statistical inference in vector autoregressions with possibly integrated processes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1-2), pages 225-250.
  3. Christopher D Carroll, 2002. "Macroeconomic Expectations of Households and Professional Forecasters," Economics Working Paper Archive 477, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  4. N. Gregory Mankiw & Ricardo Reis, 2001. "Sticky Information Versus Sticky Prices: A Proposal to Replace the New Keynesian Phillips Curve," NBER Working Papers 8290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Reis, Ricardo, 2005. "Inattentive Consumers," CEPR Discussion Papers 5053, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?," NBER Working Papers 10787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sims, Christopher A., 2003. "Implications of rational inattention," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 665-690, April.
  8. Christopher D Carroll & Wendy E Dunn, 1997. "Unemployment Expectations Jumping (Ss) Triggers and Household Balance Sheets," Economics Working Paper Archive 386, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  9. Carroll, Christopher D & Fuhrer, Jeffrey C & Wilcox, David W, 1994. "Does Consumer Sentiment Forecast Household Spending? If So, Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1397-1408, December.
  10. Moscarini, Giuseppe, 2004. "Limited information capacity as a source of inertia," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(10), pages 2003-2035, September.
  11. Runkle, David E, 1987. "Vector Autoregressions and Reality: Reply," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(4), pages 454, October.
  12. Gabaix, Xavier & Laibson, David Isaac & Moloche, Guillermo & Stephen, Weinberg, 2003. "The allocation of attention: theory and evidence," MPRA Paper 47339, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Runkle, David E, 1987. "Vector Autoregressions and Reality," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(4), pages 437-42, October.
  14. Souleles, Nicholas S, 2004. "Expectations, Heterogeneous Forecast Errors, and Consumption: Micro Evidence from the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 39-72, February.
  15. David E. Runkle, 1987. "Vector autoregressions and reality," Staff Report 107, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Berger, Helge & Ehrmann, Michael & Fratzscher, Marcel, 2011. "Monetary Policy in the Media," CEPR Discussion Papers 8192, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Schmeling, Maik, 2009. "Investor sentiment and stock returns: Some international evidence," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 394-408, June.
  3. Gomes, Orlando, 2007. "On the stability of endogenous growth models: an evaluation of the agents’ response to output fluctuations," MPRA Paper 2891, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Ansgar Belke & Joscha Beckmann & Michael Kühl, 2009. "Global Integration of Central and Eastern European Financial Markets: The Role of Economic Sentiments," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 952, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Maurizio Bovi, 2008. "The “Psycho-analysis” of Common People’s Forecast Errors. Evidence from European Consumer Surveys," ISAE Working Papers 95 Classification-JEL C42, ISTAT - Italian National Institute of Statistics - (Rome, ITALY).
  6. David Iselin & Boriss Siliverstovs, 2013. "Using Newspapers for Tracking the Business Cycle: A comparative study for Germany and Switzerland," KOF Working papers 13-337, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  7. Panagiotis Konstantinou & Athanasios Tagkalakis, 2011. "Boosting Confidence: Is there a Role for Fiscal Policy?," Discussion Paper Series 2011_03, Department of Economics, University of Macedonia, revised Mar 2011.
  8. Wändi Bruine de Bruin & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Julie S. Downs & Baruch Fischhoff & Giorgio Topa & Olivier Armantier, 2010. "The effect of question wording on reported expectations and perceptions of inflation," Staff Reports 443, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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