June 28, 2017

Consumer Sentiment Ended June Near a Six-Year High

Consumer sentiment improved, ending this month close to a six-year high set in May, as optimism among higher-income families rose to its strongest level in six years, a survey released on Friday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final reading on the overall index on Americans’ consumer sentiment was 84.1 points, slightly below the 84.5 in May. The new figure was higher than the preliminary reading of 82.7.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the final June reading of 82.8.

“Consumers believe the recovery has achieved an upward momentum that will not be easily reversed,” Richard Curtin, survey director, said in a statement.

He added that the recent drop in stock prices and the jump in mortgage rates had not caused a deterioration in consumers’ view on the economy.

“To be sure, few high- or low-income consumers expect the economy to post robust gains or think the unemployment rate will drastically shrink during the year ahead,” Mr. Curtin said.

Consumer sentiment is considered by some economists as a predictor on consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the United States economy.

Also on Friday, the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago said its index on Midwest business activity posted a steeper-than-expected drop in June to 51.6. A reading below 50 points suggests business contraction.

“It’s not firmly in expansion territory where businesses are ready to hire and invest,” said Tim Quinlan, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, N.C.

In the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s data, there was a divergence in outlook between higher-income families and lower-income ones.

Higher-income households showed increased optimism about their incomes and wealth, while lower-income ones reported less optimism. Families in the top third of incomes were the most optimistic since the June 2007 survey.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/29/business/economy/consumer-sentiment-ended-june-near-a-six-year-high.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Jaydens and Aidens Are Taking Over

CATHERINE RAMPELL

CATHERINE RAMPELL

Dollars to doughnuts.

It’s not your imagination: Jaydens, Aidens, Ethans and Masons really are taking over, at least among baby boys.

On Thursday, the Social Security Administration released its annual list of most popular baby names from the last year. Within the top 10 names for boys were the names above, which, as you may note, all end in the letter N. Names ending in the letter N have become phenomenally popular in recent years — so much so, in fact, that they have dominated the list of the top 1,000 boys’ names.

Source: Social Security Administration

The chart above plots the total number of babies born who have a name in the top 1,000 list in 2012, sorted by the last letter of their name. Laura Wattenberg, creator of babynamewizard.com, first conducted this last-letter name analysis a few years ago. Using a longer-tail list of boys’ names — all names given five or more times in 2012, which totals the top 14,162 names for boys — she estimates that more than a third of all baby boys born in 2012 had a name that ended in N.

Some of these N-names are falling in popularity. “Braeden,” for example, fell over 100 spots last year to No. 581 in 2012 from No. 476 in 2011. But these N-names are still hugely more popular than they were decades ago. Here is Ms. Wattenberg’s chart for the distributions of names for boys born in 1950, sorted by the last letter of their given name:

Courtesy of Laura Wattenberg, babynamewizard.com.

As you can see, there was a large cluster of N-names, but still more equitable distribution among a few other letters, particularly D’s, S’s and Y’s.

For more data analysis on baby names, I suggest Ms. Wattenberg’s blog and a “Freakonomics” excerpt on the trickling-down of baby names from higher-income families to lower-income ones. The Social Security Web site also lets you track a name’s popularity over time.

The Social Security site also lists the top five names each year over the last century. Jacob has been No. 1 for 14 years  now for boys. Sophia has been the top girls’ name for the last two years.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/jaydens-and-aidens-are-taking-over/?partner=rss&emc=rss