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Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor And Retirement Optimism Index Q3 2013

Only 14% say the stock market increases have made them feel “a lot” or “somewhat” more confident about their retirement future.

Perhaps more evidence of investor ambivalence about the stock market is the fact that on average, retired investors estimate that 39% of all their assets, not including cash or savings accounts, are actually invested in stocks or bonds. For non-retired investors the figure is 34%.

In the poll, investors were asked what would encourage average American investors to invest in the stock market: 60% - the highest percentage - said lower unemployment and a stronger economy would make the stock market more attractive. This factor was followed by 41% who said a “greater personal understanding of the stock market.”

“According to the poll, the average investor is not highly invested in the market in either equities or bonds, and it appears that a more stable economy with better employment prospects would encourage more participation,” added Ready.

Majority Foresees Gloom for U.S. Retirement

One of the more striking indicators in the poll is how troubled investors feel about the future retirement state for Americans. Almost three-quarters (73%) of investors believe “the U.S. is headed for a major retirement crisis in the next 20 to 30 years that will result in large populations living at a far reduced standard of living, or at the poverty line.”

Widespread agreement with the gloomy retirement scenario is seen broadly among both retired (69%) and non-retired (75%) investors, as well as across other subgroups of investors, such as by gender, income, and education .

Investors Speak Out on Key Washington Issues

In addition, investor confidence in the Fed’s ability to manage the low interest rate policy has slipped with half of investors saying that low interest rates are creating a bubble that will cause “a lot of harm to the economy when it crashes,” up from 43% in May.

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