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Consumer sentiment, the economy, and the news media

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  • Mark Doms
  • Norman J. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Doms & Norman J. Morin, 2004. "Consumer sentiment, the economy, and the news media," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-51, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-51
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Orlando Gomes, 2009. "On the stability of endogenous growth models: An evaluation of the agents' response to output fluctuations," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 36(1), pages 17-35, January.
    2. Alexopoulos, Michelle & Cohen, Jon, 2015. "The power of print: Uncertainty shocks, markets, and the economy," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 8-28.
    3. Helge Berger & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2011. "Monetary Policy in the Media," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43(4), pages 689-709, June.
    4. Damjan Pfajfar & Emiliano Santoro, 2013. "News on Inflation and the Epidemiology of Inflation Expectations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(6), pages 1045-1067, September.
    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. Konstantinou, Panagiotis & Tagkalakis, Athanasios, 2011. "Boosting confidence: Is there a role for fiscal policy?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 1629-1641, July.
    7. Schmeling, Maik, 2009. "Investor sentiment and stock returns: Some international evidence," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 394-408, June.
    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.
    9. David Iselin & Boriss Siliverstovs, 2013. "Using Newspapers for Tracking the Business Cycle," KOF Working papers 13-337, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    10. Lei, Chengyao & Lu, Zhe & Zhang, Chengsi, 2015. "News on inflation and the epidemiology of inflation expectations in China," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 644-653.
    11. Dreger, Christian & Kholodilin, Konstantin A. & Ulbricht, Dirk & Fidrmuc, Jarko, 2016. "Between the hammer and the anvil: The impact of economic sanctions and oil prices on Russia’s ruble," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 295-308.
    12. Hollanders, D.A. & Vliegenthart, R., 2009. "The Influence of Negative Newspaper Coverage on Consumer Confidence : The Dutch Case," Discussion Paper 2009-55, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    13. Binder, Carola Conces, 2016. "Estimation of historical inflation expectations," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1-31.
    14. Pirschel, Inske, 2016. "Forecasting euro area recessions in real-time," Kiel Working Papers 2020, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    15. Hollanders, D.A., 2012. "The effect of aging on pensions," Other publications TiSEM 9ad52612-7171-4f89-9cb0-0, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

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