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Americans Fear Their Own Government More than North Korea’s, Research Finds

The political environment in Washington is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy over the next 6…

  • October 14, 2017

The political environment in Washington is the biggest threat to the U.S. economy over the next 6 months, according to a survey of U.S. adults that was conducted within the past week.

In the survey results, 36% cited the political situation in D.C., more than the next two choices combined (the threat posed by North Korea, at 24%, and rising interest rates, at 10%).

Terrorism also registered approximately 10% of the vote and a decline in the stock market came in with 8%.

Most demographic groups selected D.C. politics as the biggest risk.

Democrats, college graduates and middle-income households have the strongest distaste for what’s happening in the nation’s capital.

Three groups are more likely to fear North Korea than domestic politics: Republicans, Hispanics and southerners.

All age groups selected D.C. politics as the biggest danger, ranging from 34% of millennials to 39% of Baby Boomers.

But whereas just 15% of millennials listed North Korea as the biggest near-term economic hazard, 32% of Boomers said so.

Collectively, younger millennials (18-26 year-olds) actually put North Korea in fourth place (all other age ranges had it second).

“Since we last asked this question in April, the stock market has repeatedly set new highs, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates again and announced the start of unwinding their bond holdings. Yet Americans’ angst about rising interest rates or a stock market decline barely registers, with worries instead centered around the political environment in Washington and developments on the international scene,” said Greg McBride, CFA,’s chief financial analyst.

The Financial Security Index fell to its lowest level since May, but at 104.8, it’s still tied for the sixth-highest reading in the 82 months since polling began in Dec. 2010.

Men are feeling particularly good about their finances; their 107.7 rating is significantly higher than the 101.8 posted by women. Any figure above 100 indicates improved financial security over the past 12 months.

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