Friday, January 2, 2009

The Return of the American Saver?

A couple of articles that caught my eye this week:

Piggy banks fly off shelves in freshly frugal U.S. (Yahoo, 12/31/2008)
"Recession-wary Americans embraced the virtues of thrift this Christmas, with stores reporting a clear rise in the popularity of piggy banks... Personal saving as a proportion of U.S. disposable income rose to 2.8 percent in November compared with zero back in April, but remain well below the 10 percent range it occupied back in the early 1980s."

Savings Are Sexy Again (Time, 12/31/2008)
"One tiny upside to all this economic mess: as finance firms look to bolster their balance sheets by building deposits, the competition is on for your small-potato savings. Even as Treasury yields touch zero, you can still find CDs and money-market accounts paying north of 3.5%."

Of course the media wasn't the first to notice. Dr. Ronald Wilcox of UVA's Darden School noted the national savings rate increase back in October on his Whatever Happened To Thrift? blog.

Savings Rate Increases (10/30/2008)
"It is good — not bad — that Americans have decreased their expenditures on current consumption. Although decreases in current consumption will have a negative impact on the short run prospects of the economy it is a positive development for long run sustainable economic growth. Much like our financial institutions need to unwind their debt (leverage) positions in order to set themselves up for future growth and financial stability, U.S. households need to dig themselves out of debt and create a pool of personal savings in order to put themselves on a firm financial footing."

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