The Renewed Appeal of a Good Old Bank Account

There’s nothing like volatility in the equity and real estate markets to make pokier forms of investment look inviting. Gallup polling finds consumers shifting toward savings accounts and CDs when asked to identify the best form of investment for the long haul.

In a survey fielded this month, 29 percent of respondents said savings accounts/CDs are the “best long-term investment,” slightly topping the number who accorded that status to either stocks/mutual finds (27 percent) or real estate (also 27 percent). Twelve percent said bonds are best.

The pattern was wholly different in July 2002, when real estate was picked as best long-term investment by 50 percent of respondents, vs. 18 percent picking stocks/mutual finds, 16 percent citing savings accounts/CDs and 13 percent choosing bonds. As recently as last summer, people were twice as likely to pick real estate as savings accounts/CDs (37 percent vs. 18 percent).

In its analysis of the data, Gallup notes the irony that savings accounts/CDs should rise in consumers’ esteem right when declining interest rates have cut the payout from these investments. Clearly, people are paying more attention to risk than was the case when stocks and houses were consistently rising in value.