A survey by Wells Fargo and Gallup released Wednesday found that U.S. investors are as worried about the federal deficit as they are about traditional economic concerns.
According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, the federal budget and unemployment tied as top investor concerns, with 71% of investors polled saying each of these is hurting the investment climate “a lot.”
Energy prices are another top concern, with 60% of respondents saying prices hurt the investment climate "a lot." State and local governments have investors concerned as well, with 58% saying those governments' financial situations are hurting the investment climate.
The generally divisive environment in the government is a major concern for more than half of respondents, while 46% expressed concern about home price values and 38% were worried about the availability of credit.
Still, 62% of investors say now is a good time to invest in the financial markets.
While investors' overall optimism is up from its lowest point during the recession, it's still far below pre-crisis levels. The Index rose to 42 in February, up from its all-time low of -64 in February 2009. In February 2007, though, the Index was at 90.
Looking at optimism between people who are already retired and those who have yet to do so, it's clear that retirement planning is a daunting task. Retirees scored 61 on the Index, nearly twice the level of pre-retirees who scored just 35. The mean age of the retirees surveyed was 69 and the mean age for pre-retirees is 46.