Barely Half of Americans Own StocksS

The Dow is at record highs. Are you happy? No, because you are probably broke. And almost half of you people don't even own any stocks at all. Why?

I'm no highly trained economist or person with "data at my fingertips," but I'd guess that the primary reasons that only 52% of American adults have any stock investments— the lowest percentage since at least 1998— are 1) American adults are afraid of the stock market, and 2) American adults do not have any money to put into the stock market. Which is too bad, since the stock market is how the rich get richer and richer and richer! Hard to get rich, or richer, if you don't have any money to start with. That's the rub.

Is now the time for you to invest in stocks? Perhaps. Should we be worried that junk bond yields hit an all-time low as return-crazed investors plunge into ever riskier territory in search of profits? Yes. Should this cause you to stash your extra cash under your mattress? Perhaps. Does any of this matter if you are one of the millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck for whom small investments, not to mention retirement, are but a dream? No.

[Photo: Thomas Galvez/ Flickr]