Examining the balance sheets of American households is relatively new territory for researchers and policymakers who are concerned about the economic health of families and our nation. Much remains to be learned, including a better understanding of the links between microeconomic activity and macroeconomic performance.
In the months and years ahead, the St. Louis Fed's newly launched Center for Household Financial Stability will take on the challenge of this important area of study. Instead of reacting to the last decade's balance-sheet failures—high levels of debts, low levels of savings and insufficient assets beyond homeownership—we aim to proactively assess and monitor the health of household balance sheets, including the creation of new data warehouses and indexes. Along with our partners in the Federal Reserve System and beyond, we are excited about our new research on the health and consequences of household balance sheets for both struggling American families and the recovering economy.
The Center for Household Financial Stability will focus on rebuilding the household balance sheets of struggling American families. The HFS team will be conducting and publishing research on key balance sheet issues, organizing research conferences and symposia, establishing a web-based research clearinghouse, developing a Household Balance Sheet Index and organizing forums to better understand the balance-sheet issues affecting struggling families and communities.
Bryan J. Noeth, a policy analyst at the Center for Household Financial Stability, provided valuable research assistance.