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Millionaire Message: Poorer but Cautiously Optimistic

Millionaires, still smarting from the economic melt-down that left some 74% of them feeling poorer last year, say they're becoming "cautiously optimistic," according to the annual Phoenix Wealth Survey.

The survey, now a decade old, monitors the attitudes and financial behaviors of people with a net worth of $1 million or more (excluding their homes), believing that these well-heeled folks are somewhat more insightful about the financial world than the run-of-the mill consumer.

"If our respondents' intituion about the economy is on the money, we may be able to look forward to better days ahead," said Walter H. Zultowski, a senior advisor to Phoenix Cos., which hires Harris Interactive to interview more than 1,800 millionaires to conduct the survey.

Where 40% of respondents were very pessimistic about the nation's economic future a year ago, just 28% are equally pessimistic today. Last year just 30% were at least "slightly optimistic" about the economy, but some 39% say they're somewhat optimistic today.

But the millionaire prognosis doesn't come without a basket full of reservations. A full 75% of the respondents said they remain "concerned" about the economy and some 16% are "extremely concerned." That's an improvement from a year ago, but a subtle one.

Last year 88% of respondents were "concerned" about the economy and some 22% were extremely concerned.

The majority, some 53%, said they think the worst is over, but the recovery will be slow. Some 25% think we'll remain in a prolonged downturn for the next two years. Only 7% said they thought we were already coming out of the recession.

By the way, if you think accumulating $1 million would allow you to leave your financial worries behind, think again.

Only 4% of millionaires said they felt "extremely secure" over the long term and just 26% felt "very secure." Some 2% said they were not secure at all, while another 8% were "not very" secure. The bulk of millionaires were in the middle--feeling "moderately" secure.

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