The average American’s sense of financial security has declined over the past two years, according to the results of the May 2023 IPSOS Country Financial Security Index Report. Consumers are now searching for financial protection in the face of economic pessimism.
Public financial sentiment is negative.
Retiree confidence has plummeted from 2022 to 2023—at its fastest rate since 2007 to 2008, according to the latest results of the Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald Research, published in April 2023. Those surveyed express concerns over retirement account balances and inflation.
Fund managers are increasingly pessimistic about financial stability, according to a May 2023 Bank of America survey. Of survey participants, 65% say they expect a weaker economy. Both an incoming recession and a credit crunch are cited as concerns.
Spending and savings habits are changing in response to economic pressures.
According to reports by Deloitte and Bank of America Institute (released in April and May 2023, respectively) 71% of Americans are setting more money aside for savings and cutting spending. CNBC reported on May 16, 2023, that fear of a recession is the primary reason.
Consumer debt is growing exponentially, reaching trillion-dollar levels. The New York Federal Reserve reports that consumer debt totaled $17.05 trillion in the first quarter of 2023. Credit card debt alone exceeded $1 trillion.
Americans are looking to non-paper assets for wealth protection.
According to a May 17, 2023, article from Business Insider, Americans have pulled $8 billion out of small-cap stocks and placed it in more secure assets as headwinds threaten economic growth.
As for assets Americans find more secure, Gallup survey results released on May 11, 2023, show that Americans view gold as the second-best long-term asset behind real estate. Gold’s perception as the best long-term asset has nearly doubled among Americans, rising from 15% of respondents in 2022 to 26% in 2023. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who see real estate as the best long-term asset has fallen from 45% to 34%.
As economic pessimism leads many Americans to seek safer asset options for protecting their wealth, gold’s popularity may continue to increase.
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