Perfect Economic Storm Leads to Record-low Sentiments

Press release from the issuing company

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

The persistent storm clouds hanging over the U.S. economy have been especially active recently. The uncertainty surrounding the debt ceiling debate, Standard and Poor's U.S. credit rating downgrade, stock market declines and the stubbornly-high unemployment rate created a "perfect storm" of economic anxiety this summer. The result left a significant impression on Americans' financial security sentiments. TheCOUNTRY Financial Security Index®dropped 1.3 points to 62.4 in August, the lowest reading in the survey's history.

This decrease reflects record-setting lows in multiple categories. Less than half (49 percent) think they will have enough money for a comfortable retirement, down two points from a previous all-time low in June. Also at record lows were those who rate their financial security positively (34 percent) and those confident in their ability to pay debts (74 percent). Both were down three points since June. This perfect storm also dampened Americans' outlooks. More than half (54 percent) say their level of financial security is getting worse.

"Whether it's high unemployment or the housing market volatility, Americans have been dealing with economic instability for some time," saidKeith Brannan, vice president of Financial Security Planning at COUNTRY Financial. "Taken together, these factors tested people's fiscal endurance. While you can't prevent a whirlwind of economic woe, you can take steps to weather the storm."

Savings Decline in August for Fifth Year in a Row

The multitude of high-profile fiscal stressors weren't the only things affecting financial security sentiments this month. For the past five years, Americans have found it difficult to save from June to August. Just 42 percent were able to set aside money for savings and investments, a three-point drop from June.

"The summer can be a challenging time to save," added Brannan. "Everyone is eager to enjoy the weather and perhaps travel. Parents also may have to pay for college tuition, daycare and back-to-school supplies over the summer. If you can anticipate these expenses, be sure to factor them into your budget."

Survey Highlights


August 2010

June 2011

August 2011

COUNTRY Financial Security Index




Rate overall financial security as excellent or good




Able to set aside money for savings and investments




Enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement