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Stefan Karlsson

US savings rate falls to housing bubble lows

The US savings rate fell from 6.4 percent to 2.4 percent in January, and it will take a few months to see if it recovers to normal levels. 

By Guest blogger / March 1, 2013

A customer counts his cash at the register while purchasing an item at a Best Buy store in Flushing, New York. The US savings rate fell dramatically in January 2013, but it may be in relation to December 2012, when savings were boosted in anticipation of higher tax rates.

Jessica Rinaldi/AP/File

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The U.S. savings rate fell dramatically in January, from 6.4% to 2.4%. This mostly reflected the fact that income and savings was temporarily boosted in December by advance salary and dividend payments in anticipation of higher tax rates, but it also seems that for January, Ricardian equivalence was mostly confirmed.

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Stefan is an economist currently working in Sweden.

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Indeed, one could argue that it was entirely confirmed as spending didn't fall at all, while the savings rate fell sharply not only from the December level but also from the levels earlier in 2012. However, as some of the salary and dividend payments that were made in advance in December would have normally been made in January, it would seem that underlying income (and therefore also savings) was probably somewhat higher than formal income. We will have to wait a few more months to see if the savings rate recovers.

If it doesn't, then it is at a ominously low level, as the household savings rate was 2-2.5% during the housing bubble, the same level as in January.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. This post originally ran on stefanmikarlsson.blogspot.com.

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