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Center for Household Financial Stability

Center for Household Financial Stability logoThe Center for Household Financial Stability conducts primary and applied research on family balance sheets—including the health of U.S. family balance sheets, why they matter, and new ideas to improve them. The Center leverages its research to inform public policy, community practice, families, and future research.
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"After the Fall: Rebuilding Family Balance Sheets, Rebuilding the Economy"
Ray Boshara and Bill Emmons talk about the need to rebuild household balance sheets in this short video.

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Announcements

  • Ray Boshara gives plenary remarks at the CFED Assets Learning Conference in Washington, D.C.
    • Following Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's video message on Sept. 18, 2014, to 1,200 attendees, the Center's director, Ray Boshara, shared some lessons from the assets field and highlighted some of the field's most exciting developments.
      read the remarks »
  • Center Staff Contributes to Fed Board Report
  • Boshara, Emmons Give Remarks at Congressional Briefing
    • Ray Boshara and William Emmons of the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability gave remarks at a congressional briefing on "Wealth in America: How Can Congress Support Mobility?" hosted by the Urban Institute, the Congressional Savings and Ownership Caucus and the Senate Economic Mobility Caucus on July 16, 2014. At the event, an issue brief was released and signed by leading wealth researchers who were convened last October in Washington, D.C., by the Urban Institute and the Center for Household Financial Stability.
      read the remarks »
  • "Hispanic Population's Share of Wealth Likely to Increase by 2025"
    • In the June 2014 issue of In the Balance, read about the trends in household wealth for Hispanics, and how their share of all wealth in the United States will likely grow to an all-time high in 10 years.
      read the article »
  • Research Symposium Videos and Slides Now Available
    • Materials from the May 8-9, 2014 research symposium on the balance sheets of young Americans are now available online. The post-event materials include media coverage, slides and videos.
      view symposium materials »
  • Call for Papers: Economic Mobility: Research & Ideas on Strengthening Families, Communities & the Economy
    • The Community Affairs Officers of the Federal Reserve System welcome your interest in submitting a paper for the ninth biennial Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference in Washington, D.C., April 2-3, 2015.
      read more about the call for papers and the event »
  • The Center in Philadelphia Fed Publication
    • An article by Ray Boshara and William Emmons (director and senior economic adviser of the Center for Household Financial Stability, respectively) was published in the Winter 2014 issue of Cascade, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The article focused on family balance sheets leading up to the Great Recession and wealth recovery since the recession. The authors emphasized that asset diversification and low debt are essential to building and maintaining wealth.
  • Boshara Gives Remarks at National Retirement Policy Conference
    • Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability, on March 4, 2014, talked about wealth recovery and options for saving early in life at the National Institute on Retirement Security’s Fifth Annual Retirement Conference in Washington, D.C.
      view the presentation slides »
  • Emmons Talks About the Financial Outlook for American Families
    • William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, presented "The Financial Outlook for American Families" on Feb. 27, 2014, at the Simon Center for Regional Forecasting 2014 Conference "Feeling Better ... But Fully Recovered?" at Saint Louis University.
  • "Housing Crash Continues to Overshadow Young Families' Balance Sheets"
    • In the February 2014 issue of In the Balance, read why young families’ balance-sheet recovery lags behind that of middle-aged and older adults.
      read the article »
  • Boshara Talks About Wealth Recovery During Webinar on Leveraging Mobility
  • Watch Webcast of Ray Boshara's Feb. 12 Remarks on Balance Sheets
  • "Wealth Recovery Still Not Complete, Remains Uneven Across Families and Locations"
  • Forum Explores the Reality and Future of Student Loans in the St. Louis Region
    • During a recent event, leading education experts and researchers shared information on rising student debt, offered potential solutions to this growing concern and provided real and practical resources to help students and their families manage student loans. The "Generation Debt: The Promise, Perils and Future of Student Loans" symposium was held at the St. Louis Fed on Nov. 18, 2013. The event was presented by the Center for Household Financial Stability in partnership with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis.
      view symposium materials and videos »
  • New Review Focuses on Household Financial Stability
    • The latest Review, the St. Louis Fed's research journal, features papers that were presented earlier this year at the Center's symposium—"Restoring Household Financial Stability after the Great Recession: Why Household Balance Sheets Matter." The topics of the papers include the current state of household balance sheets, the effects of household debt and leverage on consumer spending, the effects of health and wealth shocks on retirement decisions, and the impact of student-loan debt on the short-run financial health of households.
      read the September/October issue »
  • "Housing Rebound Broadens the Wealth Recovery But Much More Is Needed"
    • In the November 2013 issue of In the Balance, read about how the housing recovery is improving household net worth, but may be favoring higher-priced houses and, thus, wealthier families.
      read the article »
  • Center Launches Newsletter
  • The Center is Pleased to Welcome Don Schlagenhauf to its Team
    • Don started his role as chief economist at the Center in August. He will oversee the Center's research efforts, lead the development of a household balance sheet index, write about key balance sheet topics, develop a new balance sheet data warehouse and coordinate the Center's various research symposia. Prior to joining the Fed, Schlagenhauf served as a professor of economics at Florida State University, as well as a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve banks of Atlanta and St. Louis.
      more about Don »
  • Average U.S. Household Has Recovered Only 62.8 Percent of the Wealth Lost During the Recession
    • In the June 2013 issue of In The Balance, read about evidence that the average household still has a long way to go to restore the wealth lost during the recession.
      read the essay »
  • St. Louis Fed Releases Annual Report
    • In this year's Annual Report, released May 30, 2013, Ray Boshara and William Emmons of the St. Louis Fed's new Center for Household Financial Stability provide data on the damage to household wealth during the Great Recession, explore the circumstances that led to large declines in household wealth, make the case that such wealth has not fully recovered, and show why all of that matters for U.S. economic recovery.
      read the essay »
  • The Nation's Wealth Recovery Since 2009 Conceals Vastly Different Balance-Sheet Realities among America's Families
    • In the latest issue of In the Balance, read why reports of a recovery in household wealth to its pre-financial-crisis level are misleading because some families' balance sheets continue to shrink.
      read the essay »
  • Dialogue with the Fed – After the Fall: Rebuilding Family Balance Sheets
    • The St. Louis Fed presented "After the Fall: Rebuilding Family Balance Sheets, Rebuilding the Economy," May, 23, 2013, as part of its Dialogue with the Fed evening lecture series. Ray Boshara, director of the St. Louis Fed's Center for Household Financial Stability and William Emmons, the Center's chief economist, explored the lingering damage to household financial stability caused by the Great Recession — and why that matters for helping both families and the economy move forward. Presentation slides (pdf) are now available, and video of the event will be posted soon.
  • Gov. Raskin Talks About Macroeconomic Role of Household Wealth
    • Federal Reserve Gov. Sarah Bloom Raskin, at the 22nd Annual Hyman P. Minsky Conference in New York on April 18, 2013, gave remarks on “Aspects of Inequality in the Recent Business Cycle.” During her talk, she said many experts have argued that income disparities hinder economic growth through their effects on consumption.
      “But since household behavior is surely driven by more than the size of the paycheck coming in the proverbial front door,” she said, “the distribution of wealth—as distinct from the distribution of income—could have clearer implications for the macroeconomy.”
  • Household Balance Sheets' Role in National Economic Growth Explored by Experts
    • Leading national and international experts in the roots of the devastation to household balance sheets during the Great Recession gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Feb. 5-7, 2013, to explore ways to improve household balance sheets, which play a critical role in household financial stability and restoring national economic growth.
      more about the event »
      view conference materials and videos »
  • National Leaders and Innovators Gather for Household Financial Stability Forum at St. Louis Fed
    • In late October 2012, nearly 200 people from across the country gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to discuss ways to improve access to financial services for the unbanked and underbanked, as well as to hear from those who have been generating ideas and innovations in building household wealth.
      more about the event »
      view conference materials and videos »

Media Coverage

  • Media Coverage Highlights June's In the Balance
  • International Business Times Interviews Emmons About Consumer Spending
    • The International Business Times interviewed William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, for a story about consumer spending’s impact on economic growth. The article was published on June 27, 2014.
  • Los Angeles Times Interviews Emmons About Consumer Behavior
    • The Los Angeles Times interviewed William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, for a story about how Americans save and spend now compared to their behavior before the recession. The article was published on June 27, 2014.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek Interviews Emmons About Outlook for Millennials
    • Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, for a story about the economic outlook for those in their early 20s. Emmons said he is optimistic about the prospects for that demographic. The article was published on June 26, 2014.
  • McClatchy Interviews Boshara About Prize-Linked Accounts
    • McClatchy DC interviewed Ray Boshara, director at the Center for Household Financial Stability, about the risks and benefits of prize-linked savings accounts, which offer customers the opportunity to win money every time they make a deposit. The article was published on June 26, 2014.
  • Bloomberg Features Center’s Analysis of Generation X’s Net Worth
    • News wire Bloomberg on June 9, 2014, included analysis from the Center for Household Financial Stability in an article about the trailing wealth of Generation X and how that may affect those adults’ retirement prospects. The article quoted the Center’s senior economic adviser, Bill Emmons, who explained the reasons why that generation is lagging behind others.
      read the article »
  • Recent Research Symposium Receives Media Attention
  • Boston College Blog Features Center’s Analysis
    • The Squared Away Blog, published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, interviewed the director and chief economic adviser of the Center for Household Financial Stability for a blog post on March 27, 2014. The post covered the Center’s analysis of wealth recovery across demographically defined groups.
  • Reuters Interviews Emmons About Household Debt
    • In a Reuters article published March 18, 2014, William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, talked about debt among groups that are economically vulnerable and financially fragile, including younger, less-educated and minority families.
  • Emmons Interviewed for WSJ Story on Household Wealth
    • In a story published on March 7, 2014, in The Wall Street Journal, William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, discusses the inequality of wealth gains that people across the country are experiencing, as much of the surge in wealth is going to older Americans and affluent Americans.
  • Reuters Talks with Boshara about Child Savings Accounts
    • News wire Reuters on March 6, 2014, published a story about new federal legislation that would create Roth accounts for youth savings. In the story, Ray Boshara, the director of the Center for Financial Stability who developed ideas for youth savings accounts in his previous role as vice president at the New America Foundation, discussed previous efforts in the child savings field, as well as the benefits of saving from a young age.
  • Media Coverage Highlights In the Balance
  • Emmons Discusses Homeownership on St. Louis PBS Show
    • William Emmons, senior economic adviser at the Center for Household Financial Stability, appeared Feb. 27, 2014, on "Stay Tuned" on St. Louis' local PBS station. Emmons and the show's other St. Louis-area guests discussed homeownership.
      watch the video »
  • Inequality Paper in the News:
  • Media Coverage Highlights Center Publication
  • "Balancing a College Major, College Choice and Student Debt"
    • In an op-ed published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Dec. 5, 2013, Bryan Noeth, policy analyst at the Center for Household Financial Stability, wrote about the rising level of student debt in the St. Louis region and the nation. He explained some of the solutions and alternatives that participants discussed at the Center's Nov. 18, 2013, symposium on student loans.
  • Recent Student Loan Symposium Receives Media Attention
  • Media Coverage Highlights Paper on the Status of Older Americans
    • A new working paper by Senior Economic Adviser William Emmons and Policy Analyst Bryan Noeth, both at the Center for Household Financial Stability, has received media coverage from a variety of sources. The paper, "The Economic and Financial Status of Older Americans," discusses how today's seniors—who were born before the end of WWII—were protected from some of the losses incurred during the recent recession. This cohort entered the job market during the booming post-war economy and advanced in their careers as wages, stocks and houses all grew in value. While this older generation may, in fact, have been "born at the right time," they also rely more heavily on more stable sources of income, such as Social Security and pension wealth. Multiple media outlets covered this paper including: NBC News on Oct. 28, 2013; the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Nov. 5, 2013; the St. Louis Beacon on Nov. 6, 2013; Time magazine on Nov. 6, 2013; and The Columbus Dispatch on Nov. 6, 2013.
  • "The 5-year Mark: Stock Market is Booming, but Most Households Have Not Regained Lost Wealth"
    • In an article published in the St. Louis Beacon on Sept. 19, 2013, Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability, explained the uneven economic recovery among U.S. households. He also described the household balance-sheet failures that contributed to the financial crisis and economic downturn.
  • "Home Finance Write-offs Drop 20 Percent"
    • In a HousingWire article published Aug. 29, 2013, William Emmons, senior economic adviser for the Center for Household Financial Stability, discussed mortgage debt in terms of economic recovery. He said that mortgage debt is still elevated, deleveraging is still happening and it could be a while before the overall debt-to-income ratio returns to a normal level. He also added that the direction in which the trend swings, and how quickly it swings that direction, ultimately depends on how the economy performs.
  • "Low-Income Folks Should Build Wealth, Then Buy a Home"
    • Ray Boshara, director of the Center for Household Financial Stability, was part of a recent episode of the radio show Marketplace Money. The episode aired from Aug. 23-25, 2013 in media markets across the country, and is now available on Marketplace Money's website.

      Boshara discussed homeownership for low- and moderate-income families. He talked about household wealth recovery, whether homeownership is right for struggling families, how they need to be financially prepared for homeownership, and why it is important for families to diversify their assets beyond owning a home.
  • "Middle Class Asks: Should We Buy Our Homes?"
    • In a Marketplace radio news story that aired Aug. 5, 2013, Ray Boshara, director of the St. Louis Fed's Center for Household Financial Stability, talked about household wealth recovery, whether homeownership is right for middle-class families, and why it is important for families to diversify their assets.
  • "How Our Debt Slows Down Louisville's Economy"
    • In the Louisville Courier-Journal's "Better Life" series, columnist Jere Downs interviewed Ray Boshara and covered his presentation, "Great Expectations: The Rise, Fall and Future of Family Balance Sheets," held July 17, 2013, in Louisville. Boshara discussed recent Center analysis that found American households recovered only about two-thirds of the wealth they lost during the last recession, leaving them without the confidence or spending power to fuel a robust economic recovery. He also addressed why some families are recovering faster than others, and why the financial health of every family matters for both economic mobility and for our nation's economy.
  • See all media coverage »