Personal finance interest grows, while interest in investing drops

A tweet from @CMEGroup reminded me of the Google Domestic Trends tool, a rough means of measuring and comparing search interest in various topics as they are Googled over the years.

Almost immediately I found that even before the 2008–2009 economic downturn, interest in investing has been eclipsed by interest in banking and personal finance, measured as a rate of growth in online searches. Diverging a hundred percentage points over seven years is not a blip — it is a phenomenon. This indicates that savings and credit have become twice as important, or at least twice as uppermost in the public mind, as investing. This in turn suggests a shift from long-term financial expectations to short-term financial tactics.

That this trend started well before the market crash is what’s remarkable, suggesting that US households knew they were in trouble long before the subprime mortgage crisis that led to Henry Paulson demanding TARP bailouts in September 2008.

You can produce such comparisons for yourself by selecting a domestic trend and adding a comparison index. To produce the graph above, visit here and add the index “GOOGLEINDEX_US:INVEST” into the Compare: box.

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