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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fed Governor Duke: Recession impact on Financial Decisions

by Calculated Risk on 5/24/2011 08:53:00 AM

This speech is on financial education, but the following comments outlined some of the impact of the financial crisis on financial decisions.

From Fed Governor Elizabeth Duke: Research, Policy, and the Future of Financial Education

The financial crisis and the slow recovery from it has obviously had a dramatic impact on the financial decisions made by American families. Many now have fewer financial resources and limited options. The pace and timing of their saving and investing life cycle has also been disrupted.
In addition, starting salaries for recent college graduates have also declined, which means that young Americans who are employed will have fewer resources for saving and investing than their predecessors. Young people are living with their parents longer, which helps conserve their limited resources but likely places a strain on their parents' budgets.

Also troubling is research showing that many consumers who should be saving for retirement instead have been forced to take hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) plans. According to an analysis by Vanguard, hardship withdrawals increased by 49 percent between 2005 and 2010. Other types of withdrawals increased by 56 percent.

The increasing use of retirement savings for other purposes is particularly troubling given that the responsibility for saving for retirement has shifted away from employers to individual employees.
Individuals who are approaching retirement age, in particular, are being forced to make changes to their plans for retirement. Social Security Administration data indicate that in 2009 and 2010, the proportions of men and women claiming social security benefits at age 62 began to rise again after several years of decline. Workers have either chosen to leave the work force early in the last few years or, more likely, have applied for social security benefits as early as possible because of the weak job market.
The recession has clearly disrupted the future expectations and financial plans of millions of Americans, but even in the best of circumstances, effectively managing one's longevity risk requires a level of financial knowledge well beyond that required of any previous generation.
Many in the 401(k) generation are now reaching retirement - with little in savings and using withdrawals from their 401(k) plans just to get by. A grim retirement ...