Over the past three decades, average household wealth in the United States has declined among all but the richest families, with a near 80 percent drop among the nation's poorest families. Although the national debate about inequality has focused on income, it is wealth—the private assets amassed and passed on within families—that provides the extra economic cushion needed to move beyond mere day-to-day survival. Assets for the Poor is the first full-scale investigation into the importance of family wealth and the need for policies to encourage asset-building among the poor. Assets for the Poor shows how institutional mechanisms designed to encourage acquisition of capital and property favor middle-class and high-income families. For example, the aggregate value of home mortgage tax deductions far outweighs the dollar amount of the subsidies provided by Section 8 rental vouchers and public housing. Banking definitions of creditworthiness largely exclude minorities, and welfare rules have made it nearly impossible for single mothers to accumulate savings, let alone stocks or real estate. Due to persistent residential segregation, even those minority families who do own homes are often denied equal access to better schools and public services. The research in this volume shows that the poor do make use of the assets they have. Cash gifts—although small in size—are frequent within families and often lead to such positive results as homebuying and debt reduction, while tangible assets such as tools and cars help increase employment prospects. Assets for the Poor examines policies such as Individual Development Account tax subsidies to reward financial savings among the poor, and more liberal credit rules to make borrowing easier and less costly. The contributors also offer thoughtful advice for bringing the poor into mainstream savings institutions and warn against developing asset building policies at the expense of existing safety net programs. Asset-building for low-income families is a powerful idea that offers hope to families searching for a way out of poverty. Assets for the Poor challenges current thinking regarding poverty reduction policies and proposes a major shift in the way we think about families and how they make a better life. A Volume in the Ford Foundation Series on Asset Building
This volume, consisting of papers presented at a conference held at Williamsburg, Va., 2-3 April 1981, is a progress report on the National Bureau of Economic Research project, The Changing Roles of Debt and Equity in Financing U.S. Capital Formation. The National Bureau has undertaken this project—including the conference, the research described in this volume, and the publication of the volume itself—with the support of the American Council of Life Insurance.
Research on capital formation has long been a major focus of studies sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research because of the crucial role of capital accumulation in the process of economic growth. The papers in this volume examine the influence of taxes on capital formation, with specific focus on the determinants of saving and the process of investment in plant and equipment.
This volume contains papers presented at a conference in May 1988 in Washington, D.C., commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Conference on Research in Income and Wealth (CRIW). The call for papers emphasized assessments of broad topics in economic measurement, both conceptual and pragmatic. The organizers desired (and succeeded in obtaining) a mix of papers that, first, illustrate the range of measurement issues that economics as a science must confront and, second, mark major milestones of CRIW accomplishment. The papers concern prices and output (Griliches, Pieper, Triplett) and also the major productive inputs, capital (Hulten) and labor (Hamermesh). Measures of saving, the source of capital accumulation, are covered in one paper (Boskin); measuring productivity, the source of much of the growth in per capita income, is reviewed in another (Jorgenson). The use of economic data in economic policy analysis and in regulation are illustrated in a review of measures of tax burden (Atrostic and Nunns) and in an analysis of the data needed for environmental regulation (Russell and Smith); the adequacy of data for policy analysis is evaluated in a roundtable discussion (chapter 12) involving four distinguished policy analysts with extensive government experience in Washington and Ottawa.
Six leading economists examine the financing of corporate capital formation in the U.S. economy. In clear and nontechnical terms, their papers provide valuable information for economists and nonspecialists interested in such questions as why interest rates are so high, why corporate debt has accelerated in recent years, and how government debt affects private financial markets.
Addressing these questions, the contributors focus chiefly on three themes: the actual use of debt and equity financing by corporations in recent years; the factors that drive the financial markets' pricing of debt and equity securities; and the relationship between corporations' real investment decisions and their financial decisions. While some of the papers are primarily expository, others break new ground. Extending his previous work, Robert Taggart finds a closer relationship between corporate and government debt than has been supposed. Zvi Bodie, Alex Kane, and Robert McDonald conclude in their study that the volatility of interest rates under the Volcker regime has led to a rise in real interest rates because of investors' demand for a greater risk premium. All of the papers present empirical findings in a useful analytical framework.
For its new findings and for its expert overview of issues central to an understanding of the U.S. economy, Financing Corporate Capital Formation should be of both historical and practical interest to students of economics and practitioners in the corporate and financial community.
Americans today often think of thrift as a negative value—a miserly hoarding of resources and a denial of pleasure. Even more telling, many Americans don't even think of thrift at all anymore. Franklin’s Thrift challenges this state of mind by recovering the rich history of thrift as a quintessentially American virtue.
The contributors to this volume trace how, from the eighteenth century on, the idea and practice of thrift has been a robust part of the American vision of economic freedom and social abundance. For Benjamin Franklin, who personified and promoted the idea, thrift meant working productively, consuming wisely, saving proportionally, and giving generously. Franklin's thrift became the cornerstone of a new kind of secular faith in the ordinary person's capacity to shape his lot and fortune in life. Later chapters document how in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, thrift moved into new domains. It became the animating idea behind social movements to promote children's school savings, create mutual savings banks and credit unions for working men and women, establish a federal savings bond program, and galvanize the nation to conserve resources during two world wars.
Historians, enthusiasts of Americana or traditional American virtues, and anyone interested in resolving our society's current financial woes will find much to treasure in this diverse collection, with topics ranging from the inspirational lessons we can learn from the film It’s a Wonderful Life to a history of the roles played by mutual savings banks, credit unions, and thrift stores in America’s national thrift movement. It also includes actual policy recommendations for our present situation.
Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation brings together fourteen papers that show the importance of the interaction between tax rules and monetary policy. Based on theoretical and empirical research, these papers emphasize the importance of including explicit specifications of the tax system in such study.
Governments and corporations may chip in, but around the world houshold saving is the biggest factor in national saving. To better understand why saving rates differ across countries, this volume provides the most up-to-date analyses of patterns of household saving behavior in Canada, Italy, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Each of the six chapters examines micro data sets of household saving within a particular country and summarizes statistics on patterns of saving by age, income, and other demographic factors. The authors provide age-earning profiles and analyses of the accumulation of wealth over the lifetime in a clear way that allows quick comparisons between earning, consumption, and saving in the six countries.
Designed as a companion to Public Policies and Household Saving (1994), which addresses saving policies in the G-7 nations, this volume offers detailed descriptions of saving behavior in all G-7 nations except France.
This volume explores East Asia's macroeconomic experience in the 1980s and the economic impact of East Asia's growth on the rest of the world. The authors explore the causes of capital flows, changes in trade balances, and exchange rate fluctuations in East Asia and their effects on other countries.
These fourteen papers are organized around four themes: the overall determinants of growth and trading relations in the East Asian region; monetary policies in relation to capital controls and capital accounts; the impact of exchange rate behavior on industrial structure; and the potential for greater regional integration. The contributors examine interactions among exchange rate movements, trade balances, and capital flows; how government monetary policy affects capital flows; the effect of exchange rates on industrial structure, inventories, and prices; and the extent of regional integration in East Asia.
There is probably no concept other than saving for which U.S. official agencies issue annual estimates that differ by more than a third, as they have done for net household saving, or for which reputable scholars claim that the correct measure is close to ten times the officially published one. Yet despite agreement among economists and policymakers on the importance of this measure, huge inconsistencies persist.
Contributors to this volume investigate ways to improve aggregate and sectoral saving and investment estimates and analyze microdata from recent household wealth surveys. They provide analyses of National Income and Product Account (NIPA) and Flow-of-Funds measures and of saving and survey-based wealth estimates. Conceptual and methodological questions are discussed regarding long-term trends in the U.S. wealth inequality, age-wealth profiles, pensions and wealth distribution, and biases in inferences about life-cycle changes in saving and wealth. Some new assessments are offered for investment in human and nonhuman capital, the government contribution to national wealth, NIPA personal and corporate saving, and banking imputation.
Far more than an intellectual puzzle for pundits, economists, and policymakers, economic growth is a subject that affects the well-being of billions around the globe. Helpman discusses the vast research that has revolutionized understanding of this subject, and summarizes and explains its critical messages in clear, concise, and accessible terms.
The past decade has witnessed a decline in saving throughout the developed world—the United States has the dubious distinction of leading the way. The consequences can be serious. For individuals, their own economic security and that of their families is jeopardized. For society, inadequate rates of saving have been blamed for a variety of ills—decreasing the competitive abilities of American industry, slowing capital accumulation, increasing our trade deficit, and forcing the sale of capital stock to foreign investors at bargain prices. Restoring acceptable rates of saving in the United States poses a major challenge to those who formulate national economic policy, especially since economists and policymakers alike still understand little about what motivates people to save.
In National Saving and Economic Performance, edited by B. Douglas Bernheim and John B. Shoven, that task is addressed by offering the results of new research, with recommendations for policies aimed to improve saving. Leading experts in diverse fields of economics debate the need for more accurate measurement of official saving data; examine how corporate decisions to retain or distribute earnings affect household-level consumption and saving; and investigate the effects of taxation on saving behavior, correlations between national saving and international investment over time, and the influence of economic growth on saving.
Presenting the most comprehensive and up-to-date research on saving, this volume will benefit both academic and government economists.
The great majority of working Americans are unprepared to face the difficult task of planning for retirement. In fact, the personal savings rate has been holding steady at zero for several years, down from 8 percent in the mid-1980s. Overcoming the Saving Slump explores the many challenges facing workers in the transition from a traditional defined benefit pension system to one that requires more individual responsibility, analyzing the considerable impediments to saving and evaluating financial literacy programs devised by employers and the government.
Mapping the changing landscape of pensions and the rise of defined contribution plans, Annamaria Lusardi and others investigate new methods for stimulating saving and promoting financial education drawing on the experience of the United States as well as countries that have privatized their welfare systems, including Sweden and Chile. This timely volume pinpoints where human resources departments, the financial industry, and government officials have succeeded—or failed—in bridging the way to a new retirement system. As the workforce ages and more pensions disappear each second, Lusardi’s findings will be invaluable for economists and anyone facing retirement.
The declining U.S. national saving rate has prompted economists and policymakers to ask, should the federal government encourage household saving, and if so, through which policies? In order to better understand saving programs, this volume provides a systematic and detailed description of saving policies in the G-7 industrialized nations: the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.
Each of the seven chapters focuses on one country and addresses a core set of topics: types of accumulated household savings and debt; tax policies toward capital income; saving in the form of public and private pensions, including Social Security and similar programs; saving programs that receive special tax treatment; and saving through insurance.
This detailed summary of the saving incentives of the G-7 nations will be an invaluable reference for policymakers and academics interested in personal saving behavior.
Taxation—both corporate and personal—has been held responsible for the low investment and productivity growth rates experienced in the West during the last decade. This book, a comparative study of the taxation of income from capital in the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and West Germany, establishes for the first time a common framework for analysis that permits accurate comparison of tax systems.
Taxes and Capital Formation
Edited by Martin Feldstein University of Chicago Press, 1987 Library of Congress HJ2381.T395 1987 | Dewey Decimal 336.200973
Economists have long recognized the importance of capital accumulation for productivity and economic growth. The National Bureau of Economic Research is currently engaged in a study of the relationship between such accumulation and taxation policies, with particular focus on saving, risk-taking, and corporate investment in the United States and abroad. The papers presented in Taxes and Capital Formation are accessible, nontechnical summaries of fourteen individual research projects within that study. Complete technical reports on this research are published in a separate volume, The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, also edited by Martin Feldstein.
By addressing some of the most critical policy issues of the day with a minimum of economic jargon, Taxes and Capital Formation makes the results of Bureau research available to a wide audience of policy officials and staff as well as to members of the business community. The volume should also prove useful for courses in public policy, business, and law. In keeping with Bureau tradition, the papers do not contain policy recommendations; instead, they promote a better understanding of how the economy works and the effects of specific policies on particular aspects of the economy.
In these difficult economic times, thrift may seem like a necessity, rather than a route to joy. But in this handbook, the reader learns about the virtue of thrift, and how, in combination with gratitude and generosity, it can lead to deep, lasting contentment.
The book explores the qualities that distinguish thriftiness from merely being cheap; it looks at thrift and wisdom, thrift and gratitude, thrift and ethical standards, and thrift and hard work. With references from the Bible, literature, poetry, and philosophy, as well as examples from daily life, thrift is shown to be more than just understanding the bottom line. Indeed, thrift is part of a religious and cultural understanding of how we use our time, our talents, and our resources.
Thrift: A Cyclopedia
David Blankenhorn Templeton Press, 2008 Library of Congress HC110.C6B57 2008 | Dewey Decimal 332.0240097303
In today's consumer-driven society, extolling the virtues of thrift might seem like a quaint relic of a bygone era. Americans have embraced the ideas of easy credit, instant gratification, and spending as a tool to combat everything from recessions to the effects of natural disasters and terrorist attacks. In David Blankenhorn's new compendium, Thrift: A Cyclopedia, he reminds readers of a time when thrift was one of America's most cherished cultural values.
Gathering hundreds of quotes, sayings, proverbs, and photographs of Blankenhorn's vast personal collection of thrift memorabilia, this handsome book is a treasure trove of wisdom from around the world and throughout the ages. Readers will find insights from such varied sources as the Bible, the Qur'an, William Shakespeare, Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, J. C. Penney, and Warren Buffett. Entries are serious, inspiring, occasionally humorous, and they will go a great way toward expanding the narrow perception of thrift as simple penny pinching; replacing that myopic view with one of a broader thrift—one that, as William H. Kniffen puts it, "earns largely and spends wisely" and leads to a life of independence and comfort well into old age.
Educators and parents will find ample wisdom to pass on to the next generation about the value of hard work, saving for the future, and generosity. Historians will delight in the glimpses into the U.S. thrift movement of the 1920s. Those seeking encouragement and inspiration will find much material here for reflection on the ideals of good stewardship, diligence, and sound financial planning. As our society ails from wastefulness, growing economic inequality, indebtedness, and runaway consumerism, there could be no stronger cure than this powerful little word, "thrift", which finds its root meaning in the word "thrive."
In this lively and engaging book, Andrew L. Yarrow tells the story of a national movement that promoted an amalgam of values and practices ranging from self-control, money management, and efficiency to conservation, generosity, and planning for the future—all under the rubric of "thrift." Emerging in tandem and in tension with the first flowerings of consumer society, the thrift movement flourished during the 1910s and 1920s and then lingered on the outskirts of American culture from the Depression to the prosperous mid-twentieth century.
The movement brought together a diverse array of social actors with widely divergent agendas—the YMCA, the Boy and Girl Scouts, temperance crusaders, and others seeking to strengthen the moral fiber of urban young men and boys in particular, and to damp down the appeal of radicalism. It also attracted credit union and other progressive activists wanting to empower the working class economically, bankers desiring to broaden their customer base, conservationists and efficiency proponents denouncing "waste," and government leaders, school teachers, and economists who believed that encouraging saving was in the economic interests of both individuals and the nation.
A post–World War II culture that centered on spending and pleasure made the early-twentieth-century thrift messages seem outdated. Nonetheless, echoes of thrift can be found in currently popular ideas of "sustainability," "stewardship," and "simplicity" and in efforts to curtail public and private debt.