As if having fewer dollars weren’t bad enough, the dollars have been, according to the strict definition of the word, decimated. Consumer Price Index inflation has robbed the dollar of 10 percent of its value since 2007. With the interest rate on a savings account below 1 percent, saving money in the bank has come to mean losing your money, and not slowly.
Under those conditions, who would save? Nobody. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. personal savings rate (disposable personal income less outlays), which briefly topped 6 percent in 2009, has averaged below 4 percent throughout this year and is now close to 3 percent. That rate was 10 percent as recently as the late 1980s.
Also headed steadily downward is the equity portion of real estate owned: Mortgage debt makes up 55 percent (and growing) of all real estate assets in America. Again, the long-term trend is even more frightening: In 1983 American homeowners had more than 70 percent equity stakes in their homes.