What scares investors the most? More than unemployment, oil prices, the housing market, tight credit, or the euro zone crisis, investors believe that a politically divided federal government could hurt the US investment climate, according to a new Gallup poll that surveyed American adults with “investable assets of $10,000 or more”:
The second most common fear is the federal budget deficit. Altogether, this suggests that investors believe the recent political gridlock over the debt-ceiling and budget has been extremely harmful to the U.S. business climate. Presumably, they’re concerned that this could continue should President Obama be re-elected along with a GOP Congress, or vice versa.
You could argue that there’s solid evidence to back up such fears: Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S. due to the political dysfunction over the debt-ceiling, and congressional gridlock has prevented any substantive policy changes on jobs, tax reform, and a host of other major issues. That said, the S&P’s downgrade didn’t diminish the global markets’ trust in U.S. debt, the market has continued its bull run, and the real economy has shown signs of turning around as well, despite the split between the GOP House and the administration.
By comparison, less than half of investors fear that the European debt crisis could end up harming the U.S. climate--a number that hasn’t budged since last September, despite the failure of many stopgap measures to bring a real resolution to the continent. But such attitudes are in line with other recent polling about the euro crisis, which hasn’t really penetrated the general public’s consciousness.