The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The U.S. national savings rate has declined in the 1980s, with both public and private components falling. This paper discusses that decline and whether a policy response is needed. The drop in the private savings rate appears to reflect factors not easily reversible by policy and increases in public saving may thus provide the most effective means of bolstering national savings. Illustrative calculations based on two alternative frameworks indicate that a net national saving rate substantially above its current level could be a desirable objective and that a large federal budget surplus could be needed to that end.