Some Interesting Findings From a myFi Survey

Jonathan Clements, former columnist for the Wall Street Journal and now the Director of Financial Guidance at, sent me a copy of the press release for a recent survey that was conducted for his firm.

Here are some of the findings:

If the current financial crisis were a baseball game, the typical American thinks we’re at the end of the fifth inning, according to a recent survey of 5,000 people conducted for myFism, short for “my financial life,” a new financial service from Citi. myFi is part of Citigroup Global Markets Inc. (member SIPC).

In the study, Americans seem to blame the crisis partly on excessive consumer spending—and many are looking to cut back:

• 63% say they’ll spend less on holiday gifts this year.
• 61% plan to reduce spending on major purchases over the next 12 months.
• 56% are looking to spend less on travel and vacations.
• 61% say they will eat out less.

Who’s to blame for the credit crisis?

This, too, is interesting:

Who’s responsible for the current mess? There’s plenty of blame to go around. Among those surveyed, 72% blame the financial crisis on excessive spending by American consumers, 64% blame Wall Street, 62% blame excessive borrowing by homeowners and 59% blame the federal government.

This must have been one of those “choose all that apply” types of questions. I am surprised that nearly 60% of those surveyed blame the government!

Finally, the last thing I want to point out is that only 32% of those surveyed thought now was a good time to buy stocks. This is surprising to me because stocks are down so much this year. How much further would they have to drop in order to be considered a good buy? I have a sneaky suspicion that in the minds of most people, the more stocks drop the less of a bargain they become—even though the opposite is true.

You can read the rest of the press release here. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can get Jonathan to answer them for you.

8 thoughts on “Some Interesting Findings From a myFi Survey”

  1. I’m not particularly surprised that 59% blame the government. It’s been pretty well reported that congress contributed to the housing crisis by encouraging lending to people with less-than-stellar credit. Since the subprime mortgage situation is where this crisis began, Congress can certainly take some blame.

    Personally, I think our political policy tends to encourage booms and busts by encouraging risk-taking. Why do capital gains and dividends get favorable tax treatment but interest is taxed like income? Does that not encourage me to save in the stock market rather than save in a bank?

    Doesn’t the 401(k) encourage risk-taking in a way that pensions did not? Is it more than coincidence that he greatest bull market ever coincides largely with the entrenchment of the 401(k) system, and we are crashing as the first baby boomers are nearing retirement?

    That’s not to say that I’m against the 401(k)/403(b) system, or IRAs (Traditional or Roth) for that matter. I personally like the way it encourages personal responsibility. But it very likely catalyzes the boom bust cycle.

    I do think that interest should either get the same favorable tax treatment as capital gains and dividends or that the latter should be treated as income. If I give my money to a bank to use somewhere else in the economy, I don’t see why that is less preferred than giving my money to a current shareholder of some company so he can use it somewhere else in the economy.

  2. Why are you surprised that so many blame the government? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it Pres. Clinton who pushed the “American dream” that we should all own our homes, and got the lending rules relaxed to allow the sub-prime market to exist in order to make this initiative succeed? Not that the banking industry is innocent, but if you believe that the mortgage/credit problem is the underlying cause of everything we’re going through right now, then you really need to lay the blame in all the places it belongs. So I think the poll got it right. And I love their baseball analogy!

  3. I suspect your hunch is correct. Stocks are one of those rare things where people feel they get a bargain if they pay more…. go figure…

  4. I don’t think that JLP is surprised that people blame the government. I think what surprises him is that the percentage was so high. Heck, that surprises me too. Personally I didn’t think so many people were thinking things through enough to come to that conclusion. I’m glad it is that high–I find it promising.

    With that said, what does surprise me is with 59% of people blaming the government you’d think the Presidential race wouldn’t be as close as it is. After all, why would you put the people or party at fault in office? It would seem to me that those who attempted to fix the problem should be well ahead in the polls. So much for logical thinking…

  5. Rick,

    Please don’t drink the poisonous Kool-Aid of our media that tries to pin the blame for this mess on ONE political party. The Democrats did NOTHING to try to fix this mess. Nothing! They are merely using the blame game to point fingers while pushing off any responsibility. There’s PLENTY of blame to go around.

  6. I am pleasantly surprised that 72% blame excessive consumer spending. I’ve just come home after spending a week hanging out with a bunch of blue collar, working-class folk who all seem to blame the current crises entirely on banks, government, etc. My view that we needed to take responsibility for our own poor choices didn’t go over too well!

  7. I do think that interest should either get the same favorable tax treatment as capital gains and dividends or that the latter should be treated as income.

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