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7 Years After Crisis, Americans Still Spooked Over Stocks

Wall Street
U.S. flags fly over the New York Stock Exchange early Tuesday morning Jan. 22, 2008.

Seven years after the financial crisis (and six years after Warren Buffett declared it to be over), Americans are still leery of getting back into stocks.

That’s the upshot of a poll recently released by Gallup, which confirmed that while no longer quite as negative on stocks as they were a couple of years ago, American investors still haven’t returned to the levels of stock ownership seen before the crisis — or even in its immediate aftermath.

Once Burned, Still Shy

In the run-up to the financial crisis, Americans threw care to the wind. Despite having been burned just a few years earlier by the “popping” of the dot-com bubble, Americans at the dawn of the financial crisis were more devoted to stock investing than ever before.

Just before the bubble burst in 2000, 62 percent of Americans owned stocks (either directly, through a mutual fund, or through a 401(k) or IRA plan). Undeterred, investors proceeded to pile right back into the market post-bubble. By the time the financial crisis hit in 2008, stock ownership levels had exceeded pre-bubble levels — hitting 65 percent.

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