To better understand why people remain so cautious five years after the crisis, AP interviewed consumers around the world. A look at what they're thinking—and doing—with their money:
Rick Stonecipher of Muncie, Ind., doesn't like stocks anymore, for the same reason that millions of investors have turned against them—the stock market crash that began in October 2008 and didn't end until the following March.
"My brokers said they were really safe, but they weren't," says Stonecipher, 59, a substitute school teacher.
Americans sold the most in the five years after the crisis—$521 billion, or 9 percent of their mutual fund holdings, according to Lipper. But investors in other countries sold a larger share of their holdings: Germans dumped 13 percent; Italians and French, more than 16 percent each.
The French are "not very oriented to risk," says Cyril Blesson, an economist at Pair Conseil, an investment consultancy in Paris. "Now, it's even worse."
It's gotten worse in China, Russia and the U.K., too.
Fu Lili, 31, a psychologist in Fu Xin, a city in northeastern China, says she made 20,000 yuan ($3,267) buying and selling stocks before the crisis, more than 10 times her monthly salary then. But she won't touch them now, because she's too scared.
In Moscow, Yuri Shcherbanin, 32, a manager for an oil company, says the crash proved stocks were dangerous and he should content himself with money in the bank.
In London, Pavlina Samson, 39, owner of a jewelry and clothes shop, says stocks are too "risky." What's also driving her away may be something that runs deeper: "People feel like they're being ripped off everywhere," she says.
Holzhausen, the Allianz economist, says the crisis taught people not to trust others with their money. "People want to get as much distance as possible from the financial system," he says.
The crisis also taught them about the dangers of debt.
After the crisis hit, Jerry and Madeleine Bosco of Tujunga, Calif., found themselves facing $30,000 in credit card bills with no easy way to pay the debt off. So they sold stocks, threw most of their cards in the trash, and stopped eating out and taking vacations.
Today, most of the debt is gone, but the lusher life of the boom years is a distant memory. "We had credit cards and we didn't worry about a thing," says Madeleine, 55.
In the U.S., debt per adult soared 54 percent in the five years before the crisis. Then it plunged, down 12 percent in 4 1/2 years, although most of that resulted from people defaulting on loans. In the U.K., debt per adult fell a modest 2 percent, but it had jumped 59 percent before the crisis.
(Read more: 10 ways to get your retirement back on track)
Even Japanese and Germans, who weren't big borrowers in the years before the crisis, cut debt—4 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
"We don't want to take out a loan," says Maria Schoenberg, 45, of Frankfurt, Germany, explaining why she and her husband, a rheumatologist, decided to rent after a recent move instead of borrowing to buy. "We're terrified of doing that."
Such attitudes are rife when it has rarely been cheaper to borrow around the world.
"A whole new generation of adults has come of age in a time of diminished expectations," says Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest U.S. bank. "They're not likely to take on debt like those before them."
Or spend as much.