how it should be done

For all the growing optimism that we may be pulling out of the downturn, there has been appallingly little discussion of the fundamental rot at the heart of our economic (and, let's be honest, moral) system built upon debt and consumer spending...and debt, debt, and then some more debt. This optimism is based on growing credit (also called "debt") and consumer spending, while the savings rate is zero or below zero. The obvious truth is that we can't forever borrow money and spend it without one day paying the (Chinese) piper, but nobody is willing to push for change in other directions.

Meanwhile, things are much different in Asia where they, like, you know, build things and export them. And where the rich save their money in banks, of all places. The wealthy in Korea spend a lot too, but if you are saving 31% of your income that seems ok.

"Korea’s wealthy save more money and spend less than their peers in other Asian countries, according to a recent consumer survey of 4,106 people in top income brackets in eight Asian countries including Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

In the poll by Visa Card, 91 percent of Korean respondents said they save every month, comparable to results for China and Singapore and close behind India’s 94 percent. Only 74 percent of the Australian rich save monthly, slightly lower than 78 percent in Japan.

Wealthy Koreans said they put an average of 31 percent of their monthly incomes into bank savings, the highest among all the respondents and far higher than the overall average of 23 percent. Belying the widely-held belief that they are the heaviest savers in Asia, Japanese polled said they only deposit 16 percent of their monthly income in the bank.

Bank savings was by far the most common financial investment among Koreans, with 99 percent saying they owned such accounts, followed by 77 percent with life insurance accounts and 57 percent with financial investment fund accounts.

The report also showed rich Koreans spend about $1,299 on average each month, which ranked them as the sixth-biggest spenders among the eight countries.

At the top were the Australia rich, who said they spend an average of $3,861 each month, followed by $2,541 for Japan and $2,327 for Singapore, though spending patterns may depend on price levels and currency rates against the U.S. dollar.

Visa polled people in the top 20 to 40 percent income bracket across Asia from September to October last year.


Will Baynard said…
The funny thing is that debt continues to be actively encouraged. GM couldn't afford to pay all of their creditors- no problem. Just file for bankruptcy and start over. The company survives. Of course, some 21,000 employees are laid off, but that's small change. I had a similar plan, but it turns out that student loans will march smartly through the fire of a bankruptcy proceeding and come out the other side without so much as a suntan.

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