September/October 2013

In This Edition

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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) ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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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