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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households"

The conclusion to this paper by Michael Hurd and Susann Rohwedder is not very encouraging:

Effects of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession on American Households, by Michael D. Hurd and Susann Rohwedder, NBER [open link]: Introduction ...In this paper we present results about the effects of the economic crisis and recession on American households. They come from high-frequency surveys dedicated to tracking the effects of the crisis and recession that we conducted in the American Life Panel – an Internet survey run by RAND Labor and Population. The first survey was fielded at the beginning of November 2008, immediately following the large declines in the stock market of September and October. The next survey followed three months later in February 2009. Since May 2009 we have collected monthly data on the same households. ...
Conclusions The economic problems leading to the recession began with a housing price bubble in many parts of the country and a coincident stock market bubble. These problems evolved into the financial crisis. ...
According to our measures almost 40% of households have been affected either by unemployment, negative home equity, arrears on their mortgage payments, or foreclosure. Additionally economic preparation for retirement, which is hard to measure, has undoubtedly been affected. Many people approaching retirement suffered substantial losses in their retirement accounts: indeed in the November 2008 survey, 25% of respondents aged 50-59 reported they had lost more than 35% of their retirement savings, and some of them locked in their losses prior to the partial recovery in the stock market by selling out. Some persons retired unexpectedly early because of unemployment, leading to a reduction of economic resources in retirement which will be felt throughout their retirement years. Some younger workers who have suffered unemployment will not reach their expected level of lifetime earnings and will have reduced resources in retirement as well as during their working years.
Spending has been approximately constant since it reached its minimum in about November, 2009. Short-run expectations of stock market gains and housing prices gains have recovered somewhat, yet are still rather pessimistic; and, possibly more telling, longer-term expectations for those price increases have declined substantially and have shown no signs of recovery. The implication is that long-run expectations have become pessimistic relative to short-run expectations.
Expectations about unemployment have improved somewhat from their low point in May 2009 but they remain high: they predict that about 18% of workers will experience unemployment over a 12 month period. Despite the public discussion of the necessity to work longer, expectations about working to age 62 among those not currently working declined by 10 percentage points. In our view this decline reflects long-term pessimism about the likelihood of a successful job search.
The recession officially ended in June 2009. A main component of that judgment is that the economy is no longer declining. According to our data the economic situation of the typical household is no longer worsening which is consistent with the end of the recession defined as negative change. However, when defined in terms of levels rather than rates of change, from the point of view of the typical household the Great Recession is not over.

    Posted by on Wednesday, November 24, 2010 at 12:45 AM in Academic Papers, Economics | Permalink  Comments (51)


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