IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

What role does consumer sentiment play in the U.S. macroeconomy?


  • Jeffrey C. Fuhrer


Many in the press and general public see consumer sentiment as a significant, independent force in the economy. Some suggest that sentiment indexes forecast future economic activity, others that changes in consumer sentiment actually drive business cycle fluctuations. ; This article shows that consumer sentiment plays a much more passive role, primarily reflecting rather than causing current economic conditions such as levels of income growth, inflation, unemployment, and interest rates. The author’s statistical tests show that most of the variation in consumer sentiment is explained by these broad macroeconomic variables. The information that is unique to sentiment plays a relatively small role in explaining subsequent variations in consumption expenditures. Similarly, contemporaneous consumer sentiment data have relatively little incremental value in forecasting current activity, beyond what is available in lagged macroeconomic data. Finally, sentiment’s independent role in fluctuations and forecasting has not increased in the 1990s, as some have suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1993. "What role does consumer sentiment play in the U.S. macroeconomy?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jan, pages 32-44.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1993:i:jan:p:32-44

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eric M. Leeper, 1992. "Consumer attitudes: king for a day," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Jul, pages 1-15.
    2. Johansen, Soren & Juselius, Katarina, 1990. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inference on Cointegration--With Applications to the Demand for Money," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(2), pages 169-210, May.
    3. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1992. "Do consumers behave as the life-cycle/permanent-income theory of consumption predicts?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 3-14.
    4. Batchelor, Roy & Dua, Pami, 1992. "Survey Expectations in the Time Series Consumption Function," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 598-606, November.
    5. Burch, Susan W & Werneke, Diane, 1975. "The Stock of Consumer Durables, Inflation, and Personal Saving Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(2), pages 141-154, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Consumer behavior;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedbne:y:1993:i:jan:p:32-44. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Catherine Spozio). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.