Saving & Budgeting

The Consumer as a “Shadow of its Former Self”

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans noted last week that “the U.S. consumer is slowly improving but is just a shadow of its former self.” We couldn’t have said it better. Retail sales for March is out this morning, and we thought it would be a good time to examine why household spending has been so weak using data that …

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Measuring Wealth Inequality

The sharp rise in income inequality in the United States is well-established. But what about wealth inequality? Income represents the flow of cash that a household earns every year, whereas wealth is the total stock of assets that a household owns, either through accumulation or inheritance. Wealth is as important as income for thinking about overall well-being. It’s …

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Is Rising Housing Wealth Great News for Spending?

The Federal Reserve reported yesterday a continued rise in home values, offering a boost to household wealth. From 2006 to 2011, housing wealth fell from $23 trillion to $16 trillion, a loss that devastated the U.S. economy. Our research estimates that almost half of the decline in spending during the Great Recession can be attributed …

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