Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review

A bimonthly research journal intended for an economically informed but broad readership—from the undergraduate student to the PhD. In print and online.


SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 Vol. 95, No. 5

Restoring Household Financial Stability after the Great Recession: Why Household Balance Sheets Matter

Selected articles from a symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Washington University in St. Louis, February 5-7, 2013

Introduction

The Current State of U.S. Household Balance Sheets

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is responsible for two of the most widely used datasets containing information about U.S. household balance sheets: the quarterly macro-level Financial Accounts of the United States (FA, formerly known as the Flow of Funds Accounts) and the triennial microlevel Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) ...

Economic Vulnerability and Financial Fragility

Unfortunately, many families with the greatest exposure to the economic dislocations of the recent recession also had very risky balance sheets beforehand that were characterized by low levels of liquid assets, high portfolio concentrations in housing, and relatively high balance-sheet leverage. The authors argue that economic vulnerability and risky balance sheets are correlated because they derive from common factors ...

The Effects of Health and Wealth Shocks on Retirement Decisions

Both health status and net worth can affect retirement decisions. In some cases, early retirement may be precipitated by a shock to an individual’s health and/or economic status. The authors examine how health and wealth shocks affect retirement decisions ...

Is Student Debt Jeopardizing the Short-Term Financial Health of U.S. Households?

In this study, the authors use the Survey of Consumer Finances to determine whether student loans are associated with household net worth. They find that median 2009 net worth ($117,700) for households with no outstanding student loan debt is nearly three times higher than for households with outstanding student loan debt ($42,800) ...

The Relationship Between Leverage and Household Spending Behavior: Evidence from the 2007-2009 Survey of Consumer Finances

Some recent studies suggest that high levels of household debt and leverage have contributed to the relatively sluggish growth of consumer spending in the past few years (Dynan, 2012; Mian, Rao, and Sufi, 2013). However, this conclusion has not been widely accepted because of the empirical challenges associated with identifying the relationship amid the dramatic and complicated changes in the household economic environment during the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery.

 


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