Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh the horror: Did you know the personal savings rate INCLUDES IRA and 401(k) contributions?

The annual average of the rate is shown.
Then how come the personal saving rate has been in steady decline since 1974 when IRAs were first passed into law? And how come saving didn't improve after 1978 when 401(k) plans were first created? Or after 1997 when Roth IRAs were legislated? The current monthly reading of personal saving is a measly 4.4%.

A rich country saves, a poor one spends.

"Notice that NIPA’s [National Income and Product Accounts] treatment of IRAs and 401(k) plan contributions, for example, is perfectly consistent: Because these defined contributions are not part of personal outlays (and, therefore, must be included in the difference between personal income and personal outlays), they are correctly included in national saving computations."

-- Massimo Guidolin and Elizabeth A. La Jeunesse, "The Decline in the U.S. Personal Saving Rate: Is It Real and Is It a Puzzle?" in Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis REVIEW, November/December 2007, p. 499, footnote 13 (here)