Leading indicators and tendency surveys

Financial crisis sees collapse in OECD consumer confidence


06/02/09 - Recent data on consumer confidence suggests that households are quite pessimistic on the severity of the current financial crisis, and its impact on the economy at large. Confidence indicators for OECD member countries in recent months have witnessed an almost unprecedented collapse, with some levels falling to the lowest on record.

The graphs below reflect time-series of consumer confidence levels for the major seven OECD member countries and 'OECD Area'. They put the current levels of confidence into a historical context, by comparing the crisis with past important events. Methodological information on the consumer confidence indicator can be found at the bottom of this page under the heading "Notes".



While average consumer confidence in the OECD Area had been relatively stable, the precipitous fall which began in mid-2007 at about the time of the current financial crisis is severe. Consumer confidence in the OECD Area is now at its lowest level since the series began in 1978.

 United States

Consumer confidence levels in the US are now at levels comparable to those seen at the time of the 2nd oil crisis. The current rate of collapse has been very rapid and comes on the back of nearly a decade of stability following the DotCom crash in 2000.



The overriding picture that emerges from the consumer confidence series in Japan is the steady downward trend visible from the late 80s until 2003 when consumer confidence began to noticeably recover. However, the recent crisis has stopped this recovery in its tracks and consumer confidence is now at its lowest level since the series began in 82.



Current levels of consumer confidence, which have seen a rapid fall since mid-2007, are approaching those last seen during the ERM crisis of the early 1990s and are not far off those seen after the 2nd oil shock. This recent fall comes on the back of 4 years of steady improvement beginning in 2003.

United Kingdom


Consumer confidence levels in the UK are now at an all time low following 13 years of improvement and stability since the ERM crisis.



Consumer confidence levels in France are now at levels last seen at the time of the ERM crisis and the emerging markets crisis, and approaching the all-time low seen in the mid 1980s.



The picture for Italy doesn't show the same precipitous fall seen in the other major seven economies during the current economic crisis. Indeed, consumer confidence has gradually eroded since the launch of the Euro. However the pace has quickened noticeably since the current crisis began, and levels are starting to approach those seen during the ERM crisis.



The series for Canada presents an interesting story. One that shows a trend of gradually improving confidence between 1990 and 2008 when the bottom dropped out, returning levels to all-time lows in just one-year of rapid free-fall.



Consumer opinion surveys provide information on consumer sentiment based on both the general economic situation and the financial situation of the individual or family. The information collected in consumer opinion surveys is described as qualitative because respondents are asked to assign qualities (opinions), rather than quantities, to the variables of interest. Data obtained from these surveys are useful in their own right but are also used in the compilation of consumer confidence indicators.

The OECD standardised Consumer Confidence Indicators (CCI) are measures comparable across countries. Comparability has been achieved by careful selection of national indicators, and by smoothing, centring, and amplitude adjusting these series. For more information on the construction of these indicators see: http://stats.oecd.org/mei/default.asp?lang=e&subject=7


Data are available in OECD.Stat Extracts at http://stats.oecd.org/wbos/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=MEI_BTS_COS