Why Americans Are Saving

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

BOB MORAN recently plunked down $2,000 in an Individual Retirement Account at Citibank. ``Planning for my retirement is No. 1,'' says Mr. Moran, a 53-year-old editor. He is not alone. This year Americans are socking away savings at a nearly 6 percent rate, up from 4.2 percent last year and 3.2 percent in 1987.

Economist Ed Yardeni of Prudential Bache Securities maintains this rise is the result of an aging population. Older workers make more money and, like Moran, become worried about their retirement. ``Over the next five years, these demographics should lead to a higher savings rate,'' Mr. Yardeni says.

But some economists say the rising savings rate merely reflects a sag in consumer spending. Reading too much about the economy into the savings figures can be dangerous, warns a US Commerce Department economist. For example, this year's figures are distorted by a big payment the government made to the farmers who were hurt by the drought. Further confirmation will come at the end of the month when the government reports on personal income in March. If Moran, the Citibank depositor, is any gauge it may keep rising. ``I have some extra income,'' he says, ``and I plan to keep saving it.''

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