The talk in the trenches about waning investor confidence has been confirmed in a new poll by UBS and the Gallup Organization. "The high-profile troubles in the real estate market, particularly the subprime sector, coupled with ongoing energy price concerns are fuelling investor skepticism about the U.S. economy," says Mike Ryan, head of UBS wealth management research for the Americas. "Meanwhile, signs of an emerging consumer credit crunch and growing fears of a recession are weighing heavily on investor sentiment," he adds. Investor optimism plummeted in August, dropping 14 points to a level of 73, according to the last reading of the UBS/Gallup index of investor optimism. The index had a baseline score of 124 in October, 1996. Fears over the state of the subprime mortgage market continue to plague investors, with 59 per cent feeling there will be a spillover into the overall mortgage market, the poll found. Moreover, investors feel pessimistic over the current economy, UBS/Gallop contends, with 65 per cent of investors feeling the U.S. economy is now either in a slowdown or a recession.