For the most part during the Trump era, consumer confidence has been very high. The May 2018 Consumer Confidence Index read 128 and was 135.6 in April. The assessments by consumers of current economic conditions has been improving a lot this year as there are better attitudes about business conditions. This is after a report of 127 from March and 130 in February, which was the highest Consumer Confidence Index seen in 18 years.
Experts say that the consumer assessment of current economic conditions has increased to a record high, which tells us that economic growth levels in Q2 is very likely have improved from Q1. Consumers also have been slightly more positive about the shorter-term outlook in May even though there is a small decline in the percentage of those surveyed who anticipate business conditions to improve over six months. Overall, consumer confidence levels are quite high and they should continue to support solid spending by the consumer in the near term.
On the housing side, things are also looking bright from the consumers’ perspective. The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index increased .6 points in May to 92.3, which is an all time high in the survey for the second month in a row. But consumer attitudes about buying or selling a home are diverging somewhat. The number of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home did increase to 46%, it is up 14% from the previous year. But the net share who said now is a good time to buy dropped to 28% and this showed little improvement from the previous year. The total share of consumers who said home prices will rise in the next year was unchanged at 49%. Americans also have reported more job confidence this past May with a boost in household income over the last year.
But the National Housing Survey results also indicated that the consumer share who expect their financial situation personally to improve in the next year dropped six points to 48%.
Some experts wonder how the Deep State that Trump talks about so much might affect consumer confidence and the economy. It is speculative at this point. However, it is real that a deep state of sorts is in the US and it does include national security and economic bureaucrats who can use secretly collected information to affect the actions of our elected officials. The deep state can in some ways be a threat to democracy and a savior of it, depending upon the situation.
The Deep State has gotten the blame for a lot of things since Trump took office. But if you look just on the intelligence bureaucracies that include the FBI, NSA and NSC, there is evidence that the deep state secretly gathered information illegally to sabotage the president and some of his senior officials. This might be part of a concerted effort of by people more or less acting on their own.
Since Trump took office, sensitive intelligence leaks came out that were made to discredit him and his top leadership. They have continued to poor from both current and former officials in the government.
Even the harshest critics of the Trump administration should be concerned about some of the leaking that has been going on about matters that are usually only known at the highest level of government. The national security bureaucracy is set up to defend the national interests and people of America. If it is weakened, the security of the American people is at stake. And if enough people become concerned about the security and viability of our government and country, this can cause a drop-in consumer confidence and economic activity.
It is very important to the economic health of the country for people to have faith in our major political institutions, so hopefully, some of these Deep State leaks that have been occurring in the first half of the Trump presidency will end soon.
Everyone wants the American economy to continue to do well, add jobs and have more people buy homes, after all.