Skip to Content

Vanguard survey reveals how investors feel about the market


Expectations are central to the economic and financial decisions investors make. For that reason, we’ve been tracking the evolution of investor expectations through the Vanguard Investor Expectations Survey since February 2017. The latest survey, conducted in August 2022, indicates that while investors are still apprehensive about the outlook for stocks and the economy, some of the pessimism built up in the first half of 2022 dissipated—but remains at a high level.

This bimonthly survey poses 13 brief questions about U.S. stock market and economic growth expectations to a random sample of 2,000 Vanguard retail and 401(k) investors. It is conducted in partnership with academic researchers Stefano Giglio of the Yale School of Management, Matteo Maggiori of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Johannes Stroebel of the New York University Stern School of Business.

3 key takeaways from the latest results

  •  There’s been some lessening in short-term pessimism regarding stock returns and economic activity.

“It is worth noting that the most recent survey responses were collected in August when the market had rebounded a little from its slide into bear territory in June,” said Xiao Xu, a Vanguard investment strategy analyst and research lead for the survey.

The average Vanguard investor anticipates the U.S. stock market will rise by 3.4% over the next 12 months, a bounce back from the survey’s lowest reading ever of 0.8% in June but well below the expectation of 6.6% a year ago (see the yellow line in the expected annual stock market return chart below). There was some recovery as well in expectations for real gross domestic product (GDP) over the next three years. Expectations for growth averaged 2.7%, up from 2.5% two months ago but below the level of 3.5% recorded a year ago (see the yellow line in the expected annual GDP growth rate chart below). Longer-term expectations for stock returns and GDP remain fairly stable.

A less gloomy outlook on U.S. stocks and the economy in the short term

Notes: The chart shows results from an August 2022 bimonthly Investor Expectations survey of a random sample of approximately 2,000 Vanguard retail and 401(k) investors.

Source: Vanguard.


  • The Fear and Doubt Index has declined. This index, which is a component of the broader survey, indicated that investors are a little less anxious about a stock market crash or a sharp downturn in the economy.

The average survey respondent estimated the chance of a near-term stock market disaster—defined in the survey as a loss of more than 30% in the next 12 months—to be 6% in the current survey, down from 7.5% two months ago, but that level is still not far from the all-time high for the past five years (the yellow line in chart below). “The fear driven by the market decline in the first half of 2022 appears to have eased a bit in this survey given the short market rally we saw leading up to August. However, it is hard to tell if sentiment has decisively turned, especially given the renewed uncertainty in the market,” said Xu.

The average survey respondent estimated the chance of a deep economic recession in the next three years—defined in the survey as an average of –3% annual GDP growth over the next three years—at 7.2%. That is up from a year earlier but has fallen from 8.2% two months ago (the turquoise line in chart below).

Fear and Doubt Index lessened versus the previous survey

Source: Vanguard.

  • Our Disagreement Index has risen, signaling increased uncertainty surrounding stocks.

This index is higher than last year, reflecting the uncertainty in the minds of investors about the stock market,” said Andy Reed, head of investor behavior research at Vanguard.

This index measures the average deviation in investor expectations from the consensus on the direction of the stock market over the next 12 months. A higher number indicates less agreement among respondents.

The most optimistic investors (top 10%) expect a market return of more than 10% in the next year while the most pessimistic (bottom 10%) expect a market return of less than –5%. The gap is much higher than in August 2021.

The survey also measures disagreement over the outlook for the economy, which has remained relatively flat since the February 2021 survey.

Disagreement Index changed course in Augu

Source: Vanguard.

About the Vanguard Investor Expectations Survey

This survey, conducted by Vanguard’s investor behavior research team, collects Vanguard investor expectations on U.S. stock market returns and U.S. GDP growth.

The survey responses reflect investor beliefs about the market and the economy. The responses may be of use to advisers, plan sponsors, researchers, and other investors wishing to gauge current sentiment among individual households and calibrate what a client thinks compared to the market.

The survey involves a random sample of U.S.-based Vanguard investors invited by email to participate. About 80% of the sample is drawn from our retail clients and about 20% from participants in employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plans. To be included, investors also must have opted in to receiving Vanguard statements via email, be over the age of 21, and have total Vanguard assets of at least $10,000. Overall, this group holds about $2 trillion in assets at Vanguard. We receive about 2,000 responses from investors in each wave.

The first survey was conducted February 2017. It runs bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. A special survey was conducted in March 2020 during the market crash.

Note: All investing is subject to risk, including possible loss of the money you invest.


Your use of this site signifies that you accept our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

© 2022 VIGM, S.A. DE C.V. Asesor en Inversiones Independiente. All rights reserved.

This website is aimed at institutional investors and sophisticated investors, so Vanguard Mexico will not have any responsibility for the use given to the information contained in this page, by investors that are not sophisticated or institutional.

In the event of discrepancy between the information on this website and that contained in the legal documentation of the products, the latter shall prevail.

VIGM, S.A. de C.V. Asesor en Inversiones Independiente (“Vanguard Mexico”) registration number: 30119-001-(14831)-19/09/2018. The registration of Vanguard Mexico before the Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores (“CNBV”) as an Asesor en Inversiones Independiente is not a certification of Vanguard Mexico’s compliance with regulation applicable to Advisory Investment Services (Servicios de Inversión Asesorados) nor a certification on the accuracy of the information provided herein. The supervision scope of the CNBV is limited to Advisory Investment Services only and not all services provided by Vanguard Mexico.

This material is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security, nor shall any such securities be offered or sold to any person, in any jurisdiction in which an offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the securities law of that jurisdiction. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

Securities information provided in this document must be reviewed together with the offering information of each of the securities which may be found on Vanguard’s website: or

Vanguard Mexico may recommend products of The Vanguard Group Inc. and its affiliates and such affiliates and their clients may maintain positions in the securities recommended by Vanguard Mexico.

The information contained in this material derived from third-party sources is deemed reliable, however Vanguard Mexico and The Vanguard Group Inc. are not responsible and do not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of such information.

This document should not be considered as an investment recommendation, a recommendation can only be provided by Vanguard Mexico upon completion of the relevant profiling and legal processes.

This document is for educational purposes only and does not take into consideration your background and specific circumstances nor any other investment profiling circumstances that could be material for taking an investment decision. We recommend to obtain professional advice based on your individual circumstances before taking an investment decision.

There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Important Information regarding risk of investment

ETF Shares can be bought and sold only through a broker and cannot be redeemed with the issuing fund other than in very large aggregations. Investing in ETFs entails stockbroker commission and a bid-offer spread which should be considered fully before investing. The market price of ETF Shares may be more or less than net asset value.

All investments are subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. Investments in bond funds are subject to interest rate, credit, and inflation risk. Governmental backing of securities apply only to the underlying securities and does not prevent share-price fluctuations. High-yield bonds generally have medium- and lower-range credit quality ratings and are therefore subject to a higher level of credit risk than bonds with higher credit quality ratings.

Prices of mid- and small-cap stocks often fluctuate more than those of large-company stocks. Funds that concentrate on a relatively narrow market sector face the risk of higher share-price volatility. Stocks of companies are subject to national and regional political and economic risks and to the risk of currency fluctuations, these risks are especially high in emerging markets. Changes in exchange rates may have an adverse effect on the value, price or income of a fund.