retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Associated Press reports that Fidelity Investments is out with a "Five Years After" survey of investors, designed to gauge the post-recession financial attitudes of Americans, concluding that "the frugality and investing discipline that the 2008 financial crisis imposed on Americans appear to have led to permanent changes in behavior on money matters."

Among the conclusions:

• "56% reported their financial outlooks changed from feeling scared or confused at the beginning of the crisis to confident or prepared five years later."

• "Survey participants estimated their household had lost 34% of the value of their total assets, on average, at the low point of the crisis. At least 35% experienced what they considered to be a large drop in income, and 17% said at least one head of their household lost a job."

• "42% increased the amounts of regular contributions to workplace savings plans, including tax-deferred retirement savings accounts or health-savings accounts."

• "55% said they feel better prepared for retirement than they were before the crisis. However, among the group of survey participants who reported they continue to feel scared, just 34% said they're better prepared for retirement."

• "49% have decreased their amount of personal debt, with 72% having less debt now than they did pre-crisis ... 42% have increased the size of the emergency fund they've established to meet large unexpected expenses."

• "78% of those saying they're prepared and confident said the financial actions they've taken are permanent changes to their behavior. And 59% of the scared group said they've made permanent changes."

We may not have "recession babies" in the same sense that the events of the 1930s created "Depression babies," but it seems clear that at least for the moment, a large percentage of Americans are more money-conscious than ever before. Not sure if this will change if the country experiences another bubble .... but a higher sense of financial responsibility has to be considered a good thing.
KC's View: