The latest issue of Washington Monthly has several fascinating pieces on the future of savings. John Gravois has a piece on where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau currently stands. Barry C. Lynn and Lina Khan have a piece on the collapse on American business start-ups. My colleague Mark Schmitt has a piece on the idea of government savings accounts, a piece which is also fascinating as a history of a policy idea. Reid Cramer of the New America Foundation has a great list summarizing some of the policies at the forefront of the movement to build savings and assets, which include universal childhood savings accounts, autoIRAs, addressing the unbanked and, a favorite around here, the Save to Win program that puts a lottery in a savings account.
For those interested in more, New America had a series of panels on the events which you can find here. The previous paradigm of an "Ownership Society" has collapsed. It seems unlikely that, with 401(k) programs looking insufficient to cover retirements, that we are going to privatize Social Security in the near future. And using housing equity in a bubble as a quick source of savings has turned out to be both a giant problem and no longer available. Given that the current recession is a crisis of over-leveraged households, having more stable and sufficient ways of saving and buiding wealth isn't just a matter that impacts individuals, but one that impacts the country as a whole. This needs to be at the front of the policy agenda and this issue will catch you up to the debate.