Experts to Explore Household Balance Sheets' Role in National Economic Growth


ST. LOUIS – Leading national and international experts in the roots of the devastation to household balance sheets during the Great Recession will gather 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.

The median net worth of American households declined nearly 40 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances of the Federal Reserve. Particularly hard hit were younger households, many of which carried high levels of debt and few assets other than their homes into the crisis.

Through research presentations and keynote speeches, this symposium, “Restoring Household Financial Stability after the Great Recession: Why Household Balance Sheets Matter,” will explore lessons learned after the financial crisis and possible solutions to improve household balance sheets and prevent such large-scale losses in the future. Sessions will explore how household balance sheets affect student loans and college outcomes, the sustainability of homeownership, retirement security, assets poverty and growth of the overall economy.

Keynote speakers include Michael Barr, former assistant secretary for financial institutions at the Treasury Department and professor at the University of Michigan Law School; Christopher Carroll, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University; and Federal Reserve Governor Jeremy Stein.

“If we'd like to help struggling families and our stagnant economy move forward, we have to better understand and rebuild family balance sheets,” said Ray Boshara, policy officer at the St. Louis Fed and leader of the Bank’s work on Household Financial Stability. “We’re learning that household balance sheets – what families save, own and owe, as distinct from what they earn – matter more than we previously thought for the well-being of families and the economy.”

The symposium is sponsored by the Household Financial Stability initiative and Research department of the St. Louis Fed, along with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis. Event registration has closed. For more information, visit the event’s web site. Members of the media should contact Laura Girresch at or 314-444-6166. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard’s introductory remarks and Gov. Stein’s keynote speech will be streamed live from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Feb. 7 at

Other speakers include:

  • J. Michael Collins of the University of Wisconsin
  • Dalton Conley of New York University
  • Karen Dynan of the Brookings Institution
  • William Emmons of the St. Louis Fed
  • Steven Fazzari of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Michal Grinstein-Weiss of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Deniz Igan of the International Monetary Fund
  • Brian Melzer of Northwestern University
  • Karen Pence of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors
  • Robert Pollack of Washington University in St. Louis
  • Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago


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