Average folks optimistic on economy as stock market goes gangbusters

In trying to read the tea leaves of American sentiment, a pair of recent surveys have uncovered — wait for it — optimism.

The stock market is going gangbusters in 2020, and for those invested, the record highs attained by the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have brought welcome gains.

In the Allianz Quarterly Market Perceptions Study released last week, concerns about a recession or an impending crash were at their lowest levels since 2018.

Allianz Life, which conducts the online survey, found in the fourth quarter of 2019 that 43% of Americans were worried a recession was right around the corner (down from 50% in the third quarter and 44% in 2018).

And 39% said they were worried a market crash was on the horizon (down from 48% in Q3, and 42% in 2018).

Despite the relative calm, said Kelly LaVigne, Allianz Life VP of consumer insights, “The number of people who say now is a good time to invest in the market continues to decrease.”

Some may think the market is too high, or they just don’t want to jump in and put their savings and retirement at risk if things go south, LaVigne said.

About 43% of Americans think their financial situation will get better in 2020, according to last week’s Financial Outlook Survey from Bankrate, which found “optimism is running high.”

“A lot of it is rooted in the fact that unemployment is at a 50-year low, people are working and making more money and consumer spending has been solid,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst.

About 41% of the lowest-income households in the survey (less than $30,000) expected their finances to improve, Bankrate said, ranging up to 49% for highest-income households (more than $80,000).

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