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.
This paper examines the role increasing personal wealth and home equity withdrawal (HEW) have had in the decline in the personal saving rate in the United States. It does so by comparing the U.S. experience with those of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Mortgage market liberalization and innovation should reduce household cash flow and collateral constraints while making housing wealth more liquid as HEW becomes easier over time. Regression analysis indicates the expected negative relationship between U.S. saving and net worth, with a somewhat smaller coefficient than in previous studies. HEW is estimated to have a temporary negative impact on saving of the order of 20 cents on the dollar.