Take a guess: What's bugging affluent Americans -- defined as households with more than $500,000 in investable assets -- these days?
First, let's digress for a brief, snarky sidebar: "Oh nooo, the Sunburst Yellow Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster is still in the shop and I misplaced the keys to the Morning Frost White one!" Or, "This recession is really hitting close to home ... the neighbors had to cancel one of their four country club memberships." And, of course, this familiar Wall Street executive-suite refrain: "How exactly do they expect us to survive with just a six-figure bonus this year!?"
Sour grapes aside, here's how rich folks really feel about the state of the economy, according to the latest Spectrem Affluent Investor Confidence Index. Based on a poll of 250 households, it appears that things may finally be looking up for the upper class.
The index is at its highest level in nearly two years. But please hold your applause. Although it's up five points since October, the index still sits at minus-10. According to the Spectrem Group, that's considered "neutral territory" -- not pull-the-kids-out-of-private-preschool dire, but not quite break-out-the-bubbly worthy, either. The Millionaire Investor Confidence Index, which reflects a more fiscally advantaged subset of the Affluent Investor subjects, expressed a slightly higher level of neutrality at minus-four, up three points from October.
What's on Mr. Howell's and his wife Lovey's minds? The economy, stupid! Actually, when asked what news story most affected their economic outlook, 32% of responders cited health-care reform, while unemployment and the economy clocked in at 11% and 10%, respectively. The political environment, stock market conditions, and housing and real estate also made the list.
Hmmm, maybe they're not so different than the rest of us after all.
What's bugging you?
What news stories most affect your economic outlook? Let us know below. And, no, you don't have to be a gabillionaire to respond.