What worries investors? Terrorism, D.C. gridlock

‘Event risk’ anxiety outweighs market fears, survey finds

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Richard Drew/AP
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Investors across the country are more concerned about how politics, war, and natural disasters might affect their wealth than with the direction of stocks or bonds, according to a new survey.

More than 70 percent of US investors contacted by Boston-based Natixis Global Asset Management said they plan to keep their stock and bond holdings the same or increase them over the next 12 months, shrugging off concerns about a financial markets slump or a rise in interest rates.

But when it came to what worried them most, 88 percent said they feared terrorism, while 82 percent mentioned war. Seventy-eight percent said they are anxious about natural disasters.


Some of those fears have been playing out recently, with floods in Colorado, a devastating seacoast fire in New Jersey, and Monday’s mass shooting in Washington, D.C.

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“That’s one of their biggest concerns — I’m calling it event risk,’’ said John Hailer, chief executive of Natixis. “In the past, Americans would make investment decisions primarily based on the economic outlook.’’

Now, Hailer said, they focus more on politics, the president, and the budget debt ceiling. In addition, he said, “their views of terrorism and natural disasters have really begun to factor into the way they think about investing.’’

Nearly all investors — 94 percent — said they were worried about the federal government’s financial situation.

The Natixis survey included 5,650 investors who have more than $200,000 in holdings — including 750 in the United States. Respondents in other countries largely expressed similar concerns.


But there was also some optimism to be found. Fifty-three percent of Americans surveyed said they expect their financial situation to improve over the next 12 months, and more than half of investors in the Middle East and Latin America also anticipate bigger account balances next year.

Beth Healy can be reached at