The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach and Education function engages, empowers and educates the Second District communities that the Bank serves, especially civic leaders, students, educators, small business owners, policymakers and the general public. It furthers the Bank's commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and leveraging our unique attributes to positively impact school and university programs, as well as analysis and research.
Using credit report records and data collected from several household surveys, we analyze changes in household debt and saving during the 2007 recession. We find that, while different segments of the population were affected in distinct ways, depending on whether they owned a home, whether they owned stocks, and whether they had secure jobs, the crisis’ impact appears to have been widespread, affecting large shares of households across all age, income, and education groups. In response to their deteriorated financial situations, households reduced their average spending and increased their saving. This increase in saving—at least in 2009—did not materialize through an increase in contributions to retirement and savings accounts. If anything, such contributions actually declined on average during that year. Instead, the higher saving rate appears to reflect a considerable decline in household debt, as households paid down mortgage debt in particular. At the end of 2009, individuals expected to continue increasing their saving and paying down of debt, which is consistent with what we have observed so far in 2010. In contrast, consumers were pessimistic about the availability of credit, expecting it to become harder to obtain during 2010.