Americans Start New Gold Rush: CNBC Survey
Gold fever continues to grip the nation.
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds that Americans once again chose gold as the top investment choice, beating out real estate, stocks, savings accounts and bonds.
The poll of 800 Americans finds that 35 percent picked gold as their best investment choice, down from 37 percent a year ago, but still beating real estate, which was the top pick of 27 percent of the public. That was followed by 21 percent who chose stocks.
A look at who make up the nation's gold bugs shows a distinctive demographic profile, one dominated by concern about the nation's economic outlook.
Forty-five percent of Tea Party supporters chose gold, compared with 35 percent of the overall public. And half of those Americans who believe their home values will decline in the coming year think gold is the best investment bet.
(Read more: Gold May Be Down but Bulls Aren't Counting It Out)
Other groups with an above average yen for gold include men, those with little money in the stock market and those with a high school education or less.
Positive views on gold contrast with negative views on stocks. Asked the significance of the Dow being at all-time high, just 20 percent responded that it was a sign of health in the overall economy; 60 percent said it was a sign the wealthy and corporations were doing well, rather than the overall economy.
Just 11 percent said it would prompt them to invest more in stocks, 16 percent said it would prompt them to invest less and 70 percent said it made no difference.
Still, attitudes towards the stock market did improve. Since the beginning of the financial crisis, the poll has shown that by a wide margin, Americans believed it was a bad time to invest in stocks. In the March survey, 39 percent of Americans said it's a good time to invest. That contrasted with 40 percent who said it's a bad time — as close as the two measures have been since 2007.
The views of the financial elite — those with incomes above $75,000 and more than $50,000 in the stock market— improved even more. Of this group, 55 percent say it's a good time to invest in stocks, up 12 points from the November survey and the highest mark since March 2011.
The survey also found that some Americans are taking advantage of low mortgage rates, but some critical groups are not. The average mortgage rate among those respondents with a mortgage is 4.85 percent, but it's a far lower 4.07 percent for those who have refinanced in the past two years. Those who have not refinanced report a rate of 5.15 percent. And just 22 percent say they have refinanced.
The survey found the young, those under 35 years old, are less likely to have refinanced than older Americans; minorities have refinanced less than whites and the poor less than the wealthy. In fact, only 19 percent of those making less than $30,000 who have a mortgage say they have refinanced, compared with 31 percent of those earning more than $100,000.
Those wealthier Americans report an average mortgage rate of 4.58 percent, nearly a point lower than those who earn less $30,000 a year.
It's unclear why these groups have not refinanced. Some may be new entrants into the home market, and only recently bought their first home.
Some may not qualify to refinance because their homes are underwater, that is, their mortgages are worth more than their homes, or they have other financial troubles. Others just may not be aware that lower rates could be available.