AMCI – Art market confidence at the end of the first half of 2009 [Jul 09]

At the start of 2008 Artprice launched a powerful new tool, the Art Market Confidence Index (AMCI) in order to give clients a “real time” appreciation of trends and sentiment on the art market.

The index is based on theoretical foundations underpinning the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index of the Survey Research Center of Michigan University, the absolute reference on global markets around the world. In just over one year, the AMCI has become an essential tool in any art market information kit. Tens of thousands of art market players continuously polled on the website have adopted this indicator in order to ensure they are aware of market trends as and when they emerge.

The AMCI readings during the first half of 2009 demonstrated the strong correlation between collectors’ sentiment and economic outlooks. Having contracted by about 30% in 2008, there was little room for optimism regarding the art market at the start of 2009. However, around mid-March the readings began to show signs of a better level of confidence.

On 31 January, the AMCI fell to below –20 points, repeating the low it reached immediately after the dismal November 2008 sales.
The following month of February was no better: 66% of the responses regarding the future of the art market and of the economy in general reflected a serious lack of confidence for the medium-term. In February, the S&P 500 index lost 10%, and economic forecasts gave no indication of any light at the end of the tunnel in a global crisis to which the art market was no exception. At the time, only 25% of those questioned believed in the possibility of a medium-term improvement in the art and financial markets and more than 50% considered that the crisis had become systemic and was bound to last. Buy intentions – which until then had remained relatively strong on the back of acquisition opportunities created by the crisis – started to decelerate rapidly (losing 10 points over January and February).

Sentiments on 2009 first semester climate:

On 9 March 9, the S&P reached its lowest level in more than 10 years and then began a painful recovery. The following day, the AMCI returned to a positive reading. Since then, the art market appears to have followed closely in the footsteps of financial market progressions. The New York sales in May and the London sales in June realigned their offer to match the requirements of a much choosier form of demand.
The art market, which in the space of a couple of months had become an unbalanced market dominated by selective demand, has to some extent found a new equilibrium. The auctioneers’ strategy of offering small numbers of safe-bet works carrying reasonable estimates has brought collectors back to the sales rooms.

Expectation within the next 3 months on July 1st 2009:

In the second quarter, while collectors remained prudent envisaging a gradual but very long recovery ahead, they nevertheless endorsed the adjustments underway within the art market. Although government economic stimulus measures may take years to produce a really positive impact on the economy, according the AMCI’s respondents, the art market is already recovering. At the end of June, more than 42% believed that we are the start of a recovery of art prices vs. only 30% who remained sceptical.
At the same time, the anticipated bought-in rate fell back to below 40% for the first time since 2008.

Since April, the AMCI seems firmly grounded in positive readings, despite a very moderate level of confidence and timorous optimism. On 1 July, the AMCI showed a confidence reading of 19.7 points.


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