The CBA/AOL Finance Optimism Index measures Americans’ level of optimism about their personal finances. The index tracks across four important variables: optimism about personal financial future, worry about current finances, whether news about personal finances has been positive, and worry about how the economy and politics affect personal finances. The index is measured continuously, and results are published on a monthly basis.
In October 2014, the index dropped to -5.3, a decline of 9.4 from September. The level of optimism dropped across all four questions of the index, and Americans were significantly more worried about their current financial situation. The dip in the stock market in October might have led to the large drop in optimism.
In September 2014, the index rose to +4.1, an increase of 11.1 and the highest measured level of the index to date. Optimistic responses for each of the four component questions of the index increased, with significantly less worry about current financial situation and worry that the current economic and political situation will affect personal finances. Potential drivers of this large increase in optimism could include declining gas prices, low unemployment levels, and a strong stock market through the first half of the month.
In August 2014, the index dropped to -7.0, a decline of -4.0. All 4 components of the index, from economic news to perception of current and future finances, turned slightly more pessimistic. The continued unrest in world news and the threat of war in the Middle East might have contributed to the decrease in Americans' optimism.
In July 2014, the index declined back to a negative level. The index dropped 6.8 points to -3.0 as the stock market weakened in the last week of the month and news of instability and unrest in the world impacted American optimism. A lower percentage of people thought that news about American's finances had been positive, likely due to events in the Ukraine, Middle East, and Africa.
For a full history of the index results, view the Finance Optimism Index History in the Downloads section.