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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

October 15, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Main Street’s stock-market fear, in one chart

Today is the nastiest downdraft yet in this volatile month. Last week, I discussed some of the causes. But aside from all the playerz on The Street losing (or winning), many average Americans’ fears can be explained by a conversation I had yesterday.

“It’s taken us all this time to rebuild our savings (from the Great Recession),” a woman told me. “Now I’m afraid we’re going to lose it again and we don’t have that many more years to keep making it up.”

Indeed, the people lucky enough to have 401(k)s and the remnant with pensions are watching anxiously. In many cases for the former, they don’t have abundant assets — or options about where the invest (mostly mutual funds). When do you cash out and save the nestegg? But if that happens, what if you miss the next big rally.

I’m not qualified to give investment advice. But this chart says much about the jitters on Main Street:

RealMHI

We’re looking at median household income adjusted for inflation through last year. As you can see, Washingtonians have done better than the nation as a whole. But most people are still digging out of the damage from the recession and incomes even backslid into 2013. Yes, this represents all sorts of assets and wages, but for many — and not just the toffs — the stock market is very important.

The half of the nation that doesn’t own stocks directly or through mutual funds has seen little benefit from the bull market. Wages are stagnant. But they will still be hurt by a serious correction — they’ll be among the first to be laid off or see their hours cut.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

A stronger dollar

Safety counts in a rough ride

Just don’t get bucked off


 

 

Comments | More in Stock market | Topics: Stock market

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