* Michael P. Niemira is Vice President and Economist, Mitsubishi Bank, New York, N.Y.
WITH THREE WIDELY watched consumer confidence measures available from (1) the University of Michigan, (2) the Conference Board, and (3) ABC News and Money magazine, it is helpful to understand the differences and how they relate to each other.
The Conference Board survey is done by mail while the other two are telephone surveys. The ABC News/Money poll is the only true weekly poll, although the University of Michigan survey is taken across the month and a preliminary reading is released after about two weeks into the month. All three series are reported in different forms: (1) the University of Michigan series is a net difference plus 100, i.e., 100 + POS - NEG, where POS is the share of the sample reporting better and NEG the share reporting worse; (2) the Conference Board measure is calculated as [POS/(POS + NEG)]; and (3) the ABC News poll is simply POS-NEG and reported on a four-week moving average basis. …