Expectations are often self-fulfilling. That is why when a recently released Financial Times/Harris Poll compared next decade expectations for the five largest European countries and the United States, we decided to share the results. (Two weeks ago, we actually devoted an entire Herman Trend Alert to U.S. expectations.)
Not surprisingly, the French and the British were the most pessimistic (44 and 36 percent respectively), while Americans (43 percent) and Spaniards (41 percent) were more optimistic about what the new decade will hold for them financially. More than 40 percent of Italians polled were on the fence (neither optimistic nor pessimistic; we wonder how their recent unrest among migrant farm workers might affect this poll, if taken today).
You may remember that all of these European countries have struggled with lowered birthrates and increasing in-migration of workers to fill the open jobs local employers could not fill with nationals.
Looking ahead, 10 years into what people think their standard of living will be, it is not just the French who are pessimistic. More than half of French adults (56 percent) say their standard of living will be worse as do many Germans (42 percent); Italians (41 percent); and Brits (38 percent). Spaniards are split as 35 percent each say their standard of living will be better and worse.
When it comes to spending money most report they are spending more money than they did 10 years ago: Spain (61 percent); Italy (58 percent); France (57 percent); Great Britain (51 percent) and Germany (51 percent).
Global increases in terrorism may explain why very few people feel safer. Most people also believe that the U.S. and its allies are unlikely to win the war on terror.
Most Europeans agree (between 54 percent and 75 percent) that over the next 10 years the government will do less for them and their families financially than it has in the past decade. Also, the current economic uncertainty is hitting home with citizens of these six countries, especially the French, and many people are taking a “wait and see” approach to what this new decade will bring. This attitude will negatively affect the recovery.