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Americans have faith in the stock market

In the midst of what was arguably the worst stock market crash since 1987, Americans showed surprising resilience when asked about the stock market and the economy.

A poll conducted by Gfk Roper for Bankrate on Oct. 10, 11 and 12 reveals that more than one-third (35 percent) of Americans said they are not at all worried about investing in the stock market because it will go up over the long term.

Other poll findings
Bankrate's poll on pocketbook issues that affect Americans yielded some surprising results.
Most Amercans...
  1. ... have an optimistic outlook on the economy
  2. ... expect their personal finances to improve
  3. ... say inflation is the chief hindrance to progress
  4. ... believe investing, education are keys to growth

Consider the context of their answers. The week before the survey was conducted brought unprecedented volatility in the broad markets, culminating in an 18.2 percent decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average by the market's close on Friday afternoon.

Taking it in stride
How do you feel about investing in the stock market?

Tyler Bartlett, a Certified Financial Planner with Merriman Berkman Next, was surprised at the even-keeled response by the majority of respondents. Besides the placid responses from 35 percent of poll takers, another third expressed mild concern that the markets will continue to decline for a long time.

"Anecdotally, I've heard from other financial planners across the country that people are very worried and jumping ship," says Bartlett. "You just look at what's going on in the market and people are going to cash day in and day out."

Just 25 percent of respondents said they were either very worried and losing sleep about the state of the economy or terrified about an imminent economic collapse.

Liz Weston, personal finance columnist and author of "Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life," also expressed amazement at the relatively low number of panic-stricken people following the tumultuous week in the markets -- this on the heels of weeks of financial crises.

"I'm hearing from those people who are in a state of high anxiety … and I assumed that the people who are panicking made up a larger portion of the population," she says.

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Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, says the 25 percent of respondents who do feel shaky are at risk of making poor investment choices.

 

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