Millennials Flock to Gold and Cryptocurrencies Amid Economic Uncertainty

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Updated on Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the stock market has been a rollercoaster over the past few months. It has plunged sharply on more than one occasion, only now to have returned almost to pre-pandemic levels. Reasonably, this instability — and general economic uncertainty — has shaken investors’ faith in the stock market. As a result, many are looking to alternative investment opportunities.

A new MagnifyMoney survey found that investors, especially younger investors, are turning to metals and cryptocurrencies amid the uncertainty. However, not all investors agree that this is the safest move.

Key findings

  • About 1 in 6 consumers have invested in gold or another metal in the last 3 months, during the coronavirus pandemic. Another 23% said they’re seriously considering it.
    • Millennials lead the generations in this recent buy up, with 21% making metal purchases in the last three months. Gen Z is not far behind at 19%. Meanwhile, 18% of Gen X has invested in metals recently, while just under 5% of baby boomers did the same.
  • In addition to gold, younger consumers — especially millennials — are also interested in cryptocurrency. Among millennials, 30% currently invest in cryptocurrency, with about 18% investing within the last three months.
    • Gen X (29%) and Gen Z (25%) have also gotten in on the cryptocurrency action, but very few baby boomers (less than 6%) have done the same.
  • Of respondents, 27% have considered moving some of their retirement funds into gold or cryptocurrency within the last 3 months, amid an increasingly turbulent stock market spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.
    • Men and millennials are among the most likely to have weighed this option.

Investing in gold or cryptocurrency in a downturn

With the stock market in flux over the past three months, 30% of consumers have turned to metal or cryptocurrency investments. Another 38% are strongly considering these investments.

Despite the increased interest in investing in these different markets, there wasn’t a consensus on whether it is safe to do. While about 30% of respondents believe that investing in gold is safer than investing in stocks, 35% believe that investing in gold or other metals when the economy is down is usually not a good idea. The majority, however, wasn’t sure if it’s a good idea to invest in metals during an economic downturn.

  • Consumers put less faith in cryptocurrency. Just 15% think owning cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, are safer than the stock market.
  • Still, the majority of respondents indicated that no investment strategy — whether gold, cryptocurrency or the stock market — is safe. If you’re looking for low-risk returns, consider keeping your money in a high-yield online savings account instead.

Certainly, cryptocurrency is less popular compared with investing apps like Robinhood. Nearly a third of respondents use an investing app, while only about a quarter of respondents own a form of cryptocurrency.

  • By generation, this divide is most marked in Gen Z. Of Gen Zers, 38% use investing apps, while just 25% have invested in cryptocurrency.

Men are more willing to take risks on gold or cryptocurrencies than women. The survey found that three times as many men invested in gold or other precious metals within the last three months. Men (35%) were also nearly three times as likely to invest in cryptocurrency than women (13%).

  • Men are almost twice as likely to think gold is a safer investment than stocks. Meanwhile, 50% of women — compared with just 29% of men — said that neither forms of investments are safe.
  • The same discrepancy carries over to cryptocurrency. Again, men are almost three times as likely to believe that cryptocurrencies are safer than the stock market. Meanwhile, more than half of women equally distrust the stock market and cryptocurrencies, compared to 34% of men.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,020 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. We defined generations as the following ages in 2020:

  • Gen Z as ages 18 to 23
  • Millennials as ages 24 to 39
  • Gen X are as 40 to 54
  • Baby boomers as ages 55 to 74

The survey was fielded June 12-15, 2020.

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