Scared Away From Stocks?

Has Wall Street’s woeful performance put a scare into Americans that will keep them out of stocks for the long term? An Economist/YouGov poll (conducted in the first week of October) includes one bit of evidence to suggest this isn’t the case. When asked whether they think the market will be higher or lower a year from now, 36 percent of respondents answered “higher,” easily outnumbering the 23 percent who said “lower.” Twenty percent said they think it’ll be “about the same,” and 21 percent weren’t sure.

Men were more likely than women to say the market will be higher a year hence (42 percent vs. 31 percent). And in a partisan breakdown, Republicans were nearly twice as likely as Democrats to say the same (50 percent vs. 28 percent). There was relatively little variation among different age groups.

The same poll also asked, “In the past 12 months, have your savings increased or decreased in value?” Overall, 11 percent of respondents said “increased,” 19 percent said “stayed the same” and 46 percent said “decreased.” As if that’s not gloomy enough, another 22 percent said the question doesn’t apply to them because they “don’t have any savings.” In an age breakdown, 28 percent of the 18-29-year-olds fell into the “no savings” category, as did 23 percent of the 30-64-year-olds and 11 percent of those 65-plus.