Wealthy Spooked by Washington's Political Crisis

Sunday, 03 Nov 2013 01:03 PM

By Michael Kling

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Wealthy investors were badly shaken by the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis, two new polls show.

The Spectrem Millionaire Investor Confidence Index  plunged 15 points to 8, in the largest month-to-month drop since 2009. And the Spectrem Affluent Investor Confidence Index, which measures confidence of households with over $500,000 to invest, dropped 12 points to -4, a nine-month low.

The October plunge followed a huge increase in affluent investors' confidence in September, when confidence rose to the highest reading since January 2011.

Editor’s Note: New Video Exposes a ‘Great Retirement Heist’

Affluent investors say they'll watch both economic conditions and Washington politics, "further indication that they feel gridlock in Washington, D.C., is preventing substantive progress on the economy," states Spectrem, a market research firm.

The political gridlock that caused the 16-day government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis is prompting wealthy investors to keep their money on the sidelines, according to Spectrem.

More affluent investors (45.75 points, 15 points more than the previous month) said they would keep their money on the sidelines in October, Spectrem reports.

Those planning to invest in stocks dropped 16 points to 24.70, the lowest reading since September 2011, and a month-to-month drop in confidence never before seen in the survey's nine-year history.

Another poll, PNC Wealth Management's Wealth and Values Survey, also shows that wealthy investors became more pessimistic because of the political stalemate.

Nearly half (48 percent) of those surveyed immediately after the U.S. skirted default said they were less optimistic about the U.S. economy. Only four percent said “things are going to get better.”

In addition, 62 percent believe the political crisis will harm the economy in both the short and long term.

Many investors (47 percent) said they will be more cautions, but 52 percent said they will not change how they invest in the next six months.

"We can clearly see from the survey that investor confidence was hurt by the shutdown, but we also see increased sophistication as evidenced by their intention to stay the course," said Thomas P. Melcher, executive vice president and managing director of Hawthorn, a PNC Wealth Management unit.

Before the shutdown PNC’s surveys showed that wealthy investors’ were becoming more optimistic about the economy. Thirty-two percent said they were very or somewhat optimistic, an improvement from 28 percent the previous year and 10 percent two years ago.

Editor’s Note: New Video Exposes a ‘Great Retirement Heist’

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