The Money Anxiety Index shows U.S. consumers' still low confidence in the economy continues to negatively impact spending and by default, economic growth.
The index, a measure of consumers' financial stress level on a historically comparable basis, currently is at 69.2. The index was at its highest during the recession of the early 1980s when it reached 135.3; and at its lowest in the mid-1960s when it was 38.7.
More than five years past the end of the last recession the Money Anxiety Index still is higher than 58.6, its level before the so called Great Recession started in 2007, said Dan Geller, a behavioral finance expert and author of the index report.
The country has been going through a prolonged period of higher level of money anxiety, he explained. As a result in the last five years, consumers increased their bank savings ratio to the Gross Domestic Product to 57%, up from 39% to 47% in the 20 years prior to the Great Recession. The increase in the ratio of bank savings to GDP amounts to about $2 trillion in savings that would have stimulated the economy.
The still high anxiety level is a concern for many, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who, during a recent media interview, diagnosed the U.S. economy as suffering from a "long-term economic anxiety" that has led to a "slow, drip, drip, drip" recovery, Geller added.