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Whatever Happened to Thrift?: Why Americans Don't Save and What to Do about It Hardcover – June 24, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
At a time when the government is sending all Americans generous stimulus checks along with instructions to "spend, spend, spend" Wilcox points out the importance of savings at both a national and a personal level.
According to the author, the widening income gap between the very wealthy and everyone else is a contributing factor to the historically low levels of savings in America.
Wilcox goes on to talk about various policies that both governmental and corporate leaders can adopt to encourage savings. While Some of these policies such as a consumption tax and a partial privatization of social security suggest a conservative agenda, the book reads more as a common-sense analysis than a political screed.
Wilcox's writing style makes subject matter that would ordinarily be both depressing and dry very readable. I found it an entertaining, if depressing, read that made me personally insecure in my savings and will hopefully have the same affect on our nation's leaders.
If you check the USA today, you will find Pareto's Rule is still alive and well. 20% of the population has about 80% of the income and about 90% of the financial wealth.
I have been interested in finding out why this phenomenon has held across 3 countries for over 100 years. I have searched for why 20% of the people save and invest their money versus spending it all.
Wilcox starts out his book disproving what he calls 2 cocktail party theories for why Americans don't save more.
His first cocktail party theory is that Americans don't save enough because of easy access to credit cards. He argues that most Americans handle credit cards responsibly.
His second cocktail party theory is that American's don't save enough because greedy U.S. corporations overwork Americans.......and therefore we spend recklessly with the little free time that we have. He argues that other societies work more hours per year and they save more.
Wilcox then places most of the causation for America's low savings rates on two linked factors. He contends that Americans are driven to keep up with the next door Joneses in terms of buying things versus saving. He then argues their has been a huge increase in income inequality in the US from 1980 until 2003.Read more ›
I urge others to buy this book and then pass it only to others for them to read.
Wilcox exhibits expertize showing measurement methods of savings by National Incomes and Product Accounts (NIPA) and Flow of Funds (FOF). But after a good start the book deteriorates quickly. Data shows declining savings rate from 1975 to 2006, with rich saving a larger percentage of income than the poor. Not much of a surprise. Consumer credit is an effect rather than a cause and overwork by greedy corporations is a myth. He does point out that policy makes for cheap money and asks whether we are doing anything right.
The book deals with mutual fund fees and SEC disclosure policy, getting far removed from the topic of thrift. It's more in the nature of investment advice than anything to do with thrift. In condescending manner the author thinks that his readers might have trouble converting annual charges to a monthly reckoning. He's behind the time in store labeling which no longer incorporates a price tag. Suggestions for public policy changes amount to wishful thinking hubris advice to government.
Suggestions to encourage a reversion of the US to a thrift mentality are mostly wishful thinking, overlooking the active hostility of government monetary and fiscal policy a well as propaganda.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book! It talks about American attitudes about saving, and how things have changed over the years - and probably why. Read morePublished on July 22, 2010 by Dennis J. Faulkner
If you are interested in your financial future and the economy of the US and the world, this is a great starting place. Read morePublished on November 23, 2008 by Joel M. Stopha
The professor identifies the many complex reasons why Americans don't save enough in the first half of the book. In the second half he provides practical solutions. Read morePublished on November 15, 2008 by andris virsnieks
So people in the US don't save enough! Do you want to save some money? Don't buy this book! Instead open a savings account at one of those online banks and earn around 3. Read morePublished on August 19, 2008 by T. Kaufmann
This book really opened my eyes to the importance of saving. This was the first time I really grasped how individuals' lack of savings can adversely affect the nation as a whole. Read morePublished on July 29, 2008 by wordnerd
This book is valuable because it discusses how the psychology of money influences how we spend it, how we save it, etc. Read morePublished on July 3, 2008 by Reviewer_Dad