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Survey: As Shutdown Memories Fade, Financial Optimism Grows

CBA and AOL Finance Optimism Index Shows How Unemployment, Gas Prices and the Government Affect Consumers' Outlook on Personal Finances
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesA LATEXTRA edition of the Los Angeles Times, published Oct. 16, 2013.
Last October's 16-day government shutdown affected the lives of millions of Americans as federal offices closed, paychecks and federal assistance were put on hold, and popular tourists spots were shuttered.

But Americans have shaken off much of the doom and gloom they felt during the shutdown, results of the new Financial Optimism Index released Tuesday show.

The survey, produced jointly by Consumer Bankers Association and AOL (AOL) -- publisher of DailyFinance -- shows that Americans are significantly less concerned about their personal finances than they were when the shutdown ended Oct. 16.

The monthly survey of consumer attitudes noted these findings:
  • In October, Americans' level of financial optimism was low, with the index at -24, indicating that pessimistic views outnumbered optimistic ones by 24 percentage points. The news about the government shutdown was negative, and Americans were worried about how the political and economic situation would affect their personal finances.
  • In November, the index increased by 16 points to -8. News became more positive, and Americans grew less worried about how the big picture issues would affect their personal finances.
  • December: The index remained flat at -8.
  • In January, the index increased again to +4 -- the first time the newly created index was positive. The increase was driven by Americans seeing more upbeat news about personal finances. The results could also reflect the impact of rising stock prices and a declining unemployment rate.
  • February: The index fell to -2.6, a drop of 6.6, mainly driven by a perception that news about Americans' personal finances wasn't as positive. Possible factors include the slow start to the month in the stock market and rising prices for gasoline.
The Finance Optimism Index tracks optimism through agreement with four statements in a survey:
  1. I am optimistic about my personal financial future.
  2. I am worried about my current financial situation.
  3. The news I've been hearing in the past few weeks about Americans' personal finances has been generally positive.
  4. I am worried that the current economic and political situation is going to affect my personal finances.
(The index is calculated using the percentage of optimistic responses given by U.S. adults minus the percentage of those who are pessimistic. A value above zero indicates more respondents felt optimistic, while a negative number means more felt pessimistic. About 1,600 adults are polled each month.)

Together with the CBA, AOL has been conducting research over the past year to better understand consumers; attitudes about their finances, the companies said.

"This new project with AOL represents an opportunity to understand the current personal finance attitudes of American consumers," Richard Hunt, president and CEO of CBA, said in a statement. "No other index is providing this unique information which will help our members and the retail banking industry anticipate consumer needs and concerns."

The companies said they will follow Americans' level of financial optimism over time, delving into what influences the ups and downs of this attitude, including economic and political events and the news cycle.

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Survey: As Shutdown Memories Fade, Financial Optimism Grows....

LOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, right.

April 09 2014 at 9:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

not us savers. we are not optimistic.

April 09 2014 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Repent you racist Repubs ! How can you live with your selfs !

April 02 2014 at 1:30 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

Those Republicans are Evil !!!! They tried to say he was born in Kenya ! They are racists because he's Black !!!!The GOP shut down the government. They are trying to kill all of us getting welfare and food stamps, that's evil.

April 02 2014 at 1:25 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jim.lapt's comment

BH0 is an eloquently tailored empty suit. No resume, no accomplishments, no experience, no original ideas, no understanding of how the economy works, no understanding of how the world works, nothing but abstract, empty rhetoric devoid of real substance.

He has no real identity. He is half-white, which he rejects. The rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his non-African Arabic surname and his Arabic first and middle names as a way to triply proclaim his Arabic parentage to people in Kenya . Only a small part of him is African Black from one grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively.

What he isn't, not a genetic drop of, is 'African-American,' the descendant of enslaved Africans brought to America in slave ships.

April 09 2014 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama tried to give us hope and change, and the GOP blocked it and all we got was food stamps and welfare.

April 02 2014 at 1:19 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

That no good George Bush, look what he did to America !

April 02 2014 at 1:17 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I think the Tech Bubble only confirmed a plunge in the economy was coming. The massive build of low wage retail amid all the abandoned manufacturing sites just did not make sense. The (good job losses) caught up with the economy and all the scamming and floating of the economy sank like the Titantic. All those Visas and bought EB-5's just pushed more citizens out of work.

April 01 2014 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love shutdowns because I get to cuddle with my gay friends.

April 01 2014 at 11:01 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Funny stuff huh. Sounds like the Fed is confident the economy will need pumping up for awhile. That is how they signal Wall St which inturns drives the rally.

April 01 2014 at 10:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This poor economy is wearing the declining middle class down almost like Guantonomo!

All you hear about is same sx marriages, legalize pot, illegals, and higher visa caps. Lets hear about hiring the older US citizens especially the ones who's ancestors built this United States from scratch!

April 01 2014 at 10:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply