WASHINGTON (AFP) – More than four in 10 American millionaires say they now need $7.5 million to feel wealthy, according to a survey that uncovered surprising levels of optimism about economic prospects.
Conducted by Fidelity Investments, the world's largest mutual fund firm, the poll analyzed the investing attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,000 millionaire households in the United States.
The 58 percent of millionaires who said they did feel wealthy said they began to feel so with $1.75 million in investable assets, up from $1.5 million in 2008.
Surprisingly, given the current economic climate, the poll revealed that the longer-term outlook was at its most positive since Fidelity began conducting the survey in 2006.
Millionaires' views of the current state of the US economy remained "very weak" at -54, on a +100 to -100 scale, but that was still up significantly from -91 less than two years ago.
And asked to look ahead to the fourth quarter of 2011, replies shifted dramatically in the positive direction (+37).
"Although millionaires are inherently optimistic, given their current views of the economy, we were surprised to see millionaires so optimistic about the future," said Michael Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services.
"Millionaires' outlook could be seen as a leading indicator of the direction of the economy, especially since the last time we conducted this survey in early 2009, they forecast improvement in all aspects of the US economy at the beginning of 2010."
The only sector in which millionaires currently showed positive faith was the stock market, which at +1 showed a sharp turnaround compared to -91 sentiment in early 2009.
With regards to the positive longer-term outlook, the biggest driver was business spending (+48), the survey found.
This was followed by consumer spending (+47), the stock market (+39), and the economy (+38). Although real estate trended back to +17, it remained the biggest drag on the economic outlook of America's millionaires.