Americans’ Ability to Pay for Emergency Expenses or Three-Month Job Loss with Cash/Cash Equivalent, by Selling Assets, by Borrowing, or Not at All

54% have three months of expenses set aside in their account. But 13% can’t pay for a $400 emergency expense.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

The Federal Reserve released the new results of its annual “Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking” (SHED) this week.

It includes the infamous section on how American adults would pay for that hypothetical $400 emergency expense, such as a car repair – the results of which are often ridiculously misrepresented in the headlines.

It also includes a section on how Americans would deal with three months of expenses if they lose their jobs.

And this year, the survey had a new question: What is the largest emergency expense individuals could handle right now?

In the report, there are essentially four categories of dealing with an emergency expense:

  • With cash or its cash equivalent
  • By selling assets
  • By Borrowing
  • Not being able to cover it by any method.

“Cash or its cash equivalent” is defined by the report as “exclusively using cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement (referred to, altogether, as ‘cash or its equivalent’).”

We’ll start with the survey’s new question:

What is the largest emergency expense individuals could handle right now using only “savings,” as opposed to borrowing or selling assets? These are the results:

  • 46% could handle $2,000 or more
  • 11% could handle $1,000 to $1,999
  • 11% could handle $500 to $999
  • 14% could handle $100 to $499
  • 18% could handle less than $100.

So, cumulatively, using only “savings,” rather than borrowing or selling assets, how much of an emergency expense could they pay for:

  • 68% (46% + 11% + 11%) could handle at least $500 to $999;
  • 57% (46% + 11%) could handle at least $1,000 to $1,999;
  • 46% could handle $2,000 or more.

The $400 emergency.

And there is a twist the came with the new question: The same survey also asks how they could pay an unexpected $400 expense: 63% said they would pay for it with cash or the equivalent (not borrowing and not selling assets).

And this discrepancy between the 68% who could “handle” an expense of at least $500 to $999 with cash or cash equivalent, and the 63% who would “cover” a $400 emergency expense with cash or equivalent is explained by the Federal Reserve’s report, “suggesting that some people do choose to pay with other methods, even if they have cash savings available to them.”

The likely explanation, according to the report, is that they want to keep the cash on hand for other emergencies, and that they will borrow or sell assets to cover the current emergency. The report:

“Some of those who would not have paid an unexpected $400 expense with cash or its equivalent likely still had access to $400 in cash. Instead of using that cash to pay for the expense, they may have chosen to preserve their cash as a buffer for other expenses.”

That 63% is the same as in 2019. But in 2020 and 2021, the percentage was higher as everyone was floating in a sea of stimulus cash. It has now normalized again.

Credit card as payment method, not borrowing method.

Only 9% of the adults said they did not expect to pay a credit card bill in full that month, according to the report. For these 9%, credit cards are a borrowing method – and an expensive one. For the rest, they’re just a payment method.

Most people use a credit card as a payment method, not a borrowing method. Roughly $5 trillion a year is spent in the US using credit cards as a payment method, and most of it is paid off by due date and never accrues interest (though it does show up in the credit card balances at month end because it’s paid off by due date the month after it was charged). These cardholders just collect their 1% or 2% cash-back and their miles and hotel credits or whatever, and never pay any interest.

The 37% who’d borrow or sell assets to pay for a $400 emergency.

The report gives some details about the 37% who would borrow or sell assets to pay for the $400 emergency expense.

As we learned above, some of them have the cash, but choose to keep the cash for other emergencies, and instead sell assets or borrow to pay for the expense.

Some of them have assets that they would sell to get the cash (6%). This might include shares in money market funds that you would have to sell before you can use the cash.

Other ways adults would cover a $400 emergency expense


Put it on my credit card and pay it off over time


By borrowing from a friend or family member


Sell something, such as assets


Use money from a bank loan or line of credit


Use money from a payday loan, deposit advance, or overdraft


13% can’t pay at all for a $400 emergency expense.

The report also found that 13% are unable to pay at all for a $400 emergency expense. These are the truly poor people, they’re at the edge of the cliff every day, and if anything happens to them, they’re in deep trouble – a problem with a tooth, a broken-down car, parking in a handicapped zone on a rainy day when they couldn’t see the markings….

54% have three months of expenses set aside.

An old rule of thumb says that you should have three months of expenses set aside in liquid form – such as in a bank account or money market fund – in case you lose your job and your income stops.

In its survey, the Federal Reserve asked about this and found that:

  • 54% had enough cash for three months of expenses.
  • 16 % said they would deal with the loss of income by:
    • “Selling assets”
    • “Drawing on other savings”
    • “Borrowing.”
  • 30% could not cover three months of expenses by any means.

In other words, 70% would get through this three-month period just fine, either having the cash, or being able to sell assets, or draw on other savings, and some by borrowing. But 30% would be in deep trouble if they have no income for three months.

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  188 comments for “Americans’ Ability to Pay for Emergency Expenses or Three-Month Job Loss with Cash/Cash Equivalent, by Selling Assets, by Borrowing, or Not at All

  1. dbbeebs says:

    I have no pity for people who have no savings. I had 2000$ set aside when I was 17.

    • Frostbitefalls says:

      And your expenses at 17?

      • dbbeebs says:

        At 17 I was raised by my family. The thrust of my comment remains.

        • Joe in LA says:

          Your parents raised a low-empathy troll. Sad.

        • Sean Shasta says:

          @JoeInLA: Though my first reaction was similar to yours, I remain compassionate towards dbbeebs. Also, parents play only a small role in how their kids turn out. Once an adult, it is up to each one to develop awareness, empathy, and other positive qualities.

        • longstreet says:

          “The thrust of my comment remains.”
          It does, and I agree.
          The immediate gratification crowd doesnt understand deferred rewards.
          Sadly, this is how Congress behaves.
          Debt is future expenditures denied… some point.

        • Ltlftc says:


          Your comments on this article are ‘chefs kiss’.

          The expectation that you must lie or show disability/inability to be heard is really bringing out the ‘best’ responses.

        • Pea Sea says:

          I don’t know which is funnier–if this guy is trolling, or if he’s serious.

        • Bob says:

          I was in a similar situation at 17, At 16 I had a summer job and borrowed $900 from my parents for a car.
          I spent the summer working and instead of paying off my parents or saving much money, I restored the car.
          When it came time to go back to school, I had a cool car which was my pride and joy but an outstanding debit that I didn’t even remember that I had to pay back.
          When my parents told me that I had to pay them back, I didn’t have a summer job any longer so that meant selling my car.

          A week later I had $3,100 cash but no debit and no car. I started all over again with another car and for all practical purposes, I never had debit again in my life.

        • Michael Gaff says:

          The solution to all of this is simple. Like my grandma taught me in the 50’s, or something.

          Save your money and buy it.
          Conversely, if you can’t save enough, don’t buy it.

          I have a 1936 Cord (still running) and a 1999 GMC pickup (still running).

          My newest vehicle is a 2007 Volvo(stlll running,
          I bought my house when I had the money.

          If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

    • Leo says:

      So we are saying that there was no need for pandemic Era stimulus checks, cares act, ppp loans, forebearance etc and despite unemployment increasing by millions economy could have done fine.


    • Appletrader says:

      Invest that cash so it doesn’t lose to inflation and open a line of credit for $2000

      • MGNick says:

        Who’s paying 20% annual interest?

      • joedidee says:

        my wife and I had discussion about funerals and death insurance
        ie do we need some
        so many offer high priced death insurance at $10 (a month) per $1,000
        of $120 per year(12%)
        If you don’t have assets to pay for funeral then maybe you ought to have $10k
        I also informed her we can buy caskets at COSTCO

        funerals are scam that can be avoided with planning
        just like emergency fund

        • Appletrader says:

          Just burn me into the sky lol save the money

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Cremation Direct is about half the cost of the other cremation folks, and will do their share of the paper work for veterans, etc.
          Agree that the industry has become HUGE rip off, as have many others.

        • Ethan in Nova says:

          Rubbermaid or Sterlite?
          Id get the green tub with lid and not the clear Sterlite one.

        • Bob says:

          That was my father’s thought but much to my surprise, none of the funeral homes in my former hometown would let you buy a casket at Costco. I figure his ghost is haunting them now…

    • Brooks says:

      At 17 when you lived at home and had no bills? Amazing accomplishment. There’s a famous study where they had people play monopoly and gave some players twice as much money to start. As expected they usually won. What wasn’t expected was their belief that starting with double the money of others did not cause them to win but instead it was their superior intellect.

      • Ltlftc says:

        A family safety net is normal, and should be praised, not vilified.

        • anon says:

          Ltlftc notes that “A family safety is normal … “

          It certainly was/is for us. My siblings and I KNEW that if things got touchy Mom & Dad could help. Same thing for my wife and her siblings with their Mom & Dad.

          Thankfully we never needed it.

          Now our children KNOW that if they hit a rough patch we’re there to help out.

          With luck it will remain an open offer without takers.

          But who can say what the future will bring any of us?

        • sufferinsucatash says:

          Family lies are more prevalent.

          I say make your own way and cut loose all the baggage.

          Let’s not play the succession game.

          Most families are just small dictatorships. And the most content with the situation, naturally is the dictator.

        • JeffD says:

          … maybe. About a fifth of people I know spoiled their kids rotten, and the kids have grown up to be adults that seem to constantly make life mistakes and can’t succeed. Tough love has some value.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Agree with JeffD on this one:
          Applied ”tough love” to kids leading to massive criticism of me and subsequent divorce.
          Kids now in forties have done very well, but now spoiling their kids to the kids clear detriment early . However, now with grands in early teens their parents beginning to apply ”piece work” and grands appear to be learning value of work and savings…

        • Prairie Rider says:

          One of dad’s quotes: “Son, if you can’t pay for it, you can’t afford it.”

          Family? In 1993, I’d retired from athletic endeavors. Dad got a platinum parachute and had his ass kicked out the door by Syngenta Ag. at age 64.

          So we started a little company. I got to work with dad for 18 years before we sold out to a French seed company for a very nice sum.

          Thanks dad. Rest In Peace my friend.

          Family? Both of my parents were successful executives when I started at University. They could have paid my tuition easily. But I’d started working my own gig at age 14 and paid my way (which used to be affordable) instead, because that’s what I wanted to do. My sister also paid her own way a few years before me.

          Mom & dad were children of the 1930’s depression, and their learned life lessons that were handed down instinctively. One generation later, my sister has taught her daughters similarly.

        • Bob says:

          Prairie Rider nailed it… Our parents who lived through the Great Depression, for the most part taught their children to save money and though none of us became Bill Gates, 3 of the 4 never had a money issue. The 4th one became a member of the Clergy, and his issues were more a function of a low salary but high reward position.

      • joedidee says:

        at 17 I had $5k in bank and Truck paid for
        by 20 I was broke(I was paying for college out of pocket)
        then tuition was $452 for semester at Madison, WI
        now OUTRAGEOUS

        • BS ini says:

          Great folks saved when young and passed that trait on. Don’t know how they’re relevant to the survey btm line is folks have money to spend except less than 20 percent who has trouble handling emergencies.
          I can think of a multitude of circumstances that would keep a 17 year old from savings.
          1. Helping with family expenses with full time job plus school
          2. No jobs in the area one lives (my case)
          3. Heath reasons
          4. Responsible for siblings at home
          Just to name a few

        • Blam35 says:

          You boomers suck,

          No, generational wealth is not the norm. It is for the white collar boomer. Seems to be the norm for homeowners in Tony western burbs of Chicago.

          But as someone that started the game w only secondary education paid for, its been and remains a rough slog.

          As the bloom of full adulthood w its realities, I find the empathy for the idle poor going, empathy for workers strong and resentment clearly growing for all those lucky ppl who are waiting for their generational wealth basket. And I am disappointed by my pettiness but I can’t seem to shake the resentment. Just remind myself, not their fault and I find meaning in working all the time.

    • Leo says:

      Deal has been struck : “A donation has been made in your name of $3.5 trillion per year to uncle Sam’s Oligarches”.

      See how rich you are! Why would you worry to save $2000 for a bad day.


    • dbbeebs says:

      My wife reminds me that I was fortunate to have a job in high school, and that I got a free usna education and a guaranteed five year job navy. Plus I met my wife in the navy.

      My current slush fund is 12000.

    • bulfinch says:

      Luckily, no-one’s interested in either your pity, or your conceit.

      • JeffD says:

        If having $2K makes someone conceited, our country is wrecked.

        • bulfinch says:

          Oh gimme a break; I’m not calling out the doofus for having 2K salted away in a gym sock at 17, I’m calling out the presumption that anyone of less net worth or fortune is seeking pity from anyone as reflexively sanctimonious as the poster.

          It’s conceited and hoity toit pinhole perspective trash. It’s like me saying I could bench press 300 pounds when I was 17 and how I have no mercy for the pencil neck dweebs who get sand kicked in their faces by some random beach combing Adonis.

    • Diana Smigaj, MD says:

      I had no savings and huge debt during my 10 years of medical school and training with a husband and 3 young children. I accomplished more than most people ever could. Your comment offends me.

      • longstreet says:

        You borrowed to make an investment in yourself.
        I think that is different (and admirable) rather than people living beyond their means, with no savings, which I believe was the gist of his comment.

        • joedidee says:

          You borrowed for education
          now time to payup
          surely you’ll give discounts for down and out that have no insurance

    • Old Ghost says:

      How long ago was that?

      Today, $2,000 is just a weeks pay for many people.

      But 60 years ago it was a substantial down payment on a house.

      • sergi tolstoy says:

        Not in the USA, 52*$2k=$104k per year with disposable $78k.

        Median income 2021 in USA , $70k
        Average weekly income 2022 in USA, $1,040

    • Flea says:

      It’s all relative gig difference in 1950 t0 2020,

    • Marshall says:

      Good for you. People ignore risk all the time and expect someone to bail them out or at least not blame them for foolish behavior.

      It is amazing how poorly adults are either prepared for life or indifferent to the impact of their behavior.
      Thisbe nothing to do with sympathetic. It’s foolish behavior.

      • phleep says:

        I gather savings so I won’t have to come at my neighbor with a hand out to beg, or a gun to rob. Or, a vote to get my government to rob him. Taking care of oneself is the first step toward taking care of one’s society. Those who set up their lifestyles otherwise are transferring risk and costs to others: free-riding on the system. Then they pull the violins out. My savings came from seriously going without stuff, and giving up “choices.”

    • THEWILLMAN says:

      So if you had a $2000 emergency expense come up then you’d also be one of the people without any savings…

    • dang says:

      I try too not pity anyone because it is an extension of an ego complex. I am however, lucky enough, in a left handed screw ball kind of way, have empathy for the enormous struggles that not having enough money imposes on an individual, couple, family, region, etc.

      Best wishes

      • bulfinch says:

        Empathy is totally egoic; it essentially asserts that one is only able to appreciate the depths of another’s agony by imagining it happening to themselves first.

        And don’t kid yourself — your ego is not some evil appendage. It is ineluctable and essential to your survival.

        • Blam35 says:


          Empathy is the opposite of putting yourself in another’s shoes, it’s generating a feeling of sorrow for another’s plight. Which would be much harder to do if u weren’t doing better than that person.

          I don’t empathize when I see someone deface a porsche.

        • Ltlftc says:

          How do you empathize with someone who makes horrible financial decisions, or immediate instead of delayed gratification?

          Am I supposed to feel the release of stress when quiting a disliked job or the feeling of joy upon buying a brand new vehicle? Or are the only feelings allowed, are the ones that manifest into guilt and pity. Why must empathy only assume sorrow?

        • bulfinch says:

          Blam35 — hmm. I’m betting even a cursory google search of the predicate “walking around in another’s shoes” will yield multiple hits pointing to the term empathy.

          Empathy is vicariously experiencing the emotions, thoughts, and experiences of another in a bid to grasp a better understanding of their pathos. But it’s ultimately a subjective exercise.

    • Moleanthill says:

      By 18 I had $17k saved up. When I met my wife she had medical issues we were unaware of. I watched that bank account drain to nothing and lived paycheck to paycheck through my early thirties before I ever got out from under that medical bill hill. You can’t assign your own lives experience to everyone else. The world doesn’t work that way.

  2. Gooberville Smack says:

    The $400 emergency fund cliche has been beaten like a stray dog all over YouTube and lord knows what other ‘reliable’ media source. My attention span has dwindled down to Wolf Street being the only financial news source that I have any consistent confidence in any more. The rest is just noise to me. One of these days I will have to break my own internet code and make a donation to Wolf Street. By the way, great interview on Wealthion the other day Wolf!

    • Flashman says:

      Maybe today should be that day.

      • sufferinsucatash says:

        Buy wolf a burrito and a coffee!

        The man has to eat!

        He’s probably wandering around San Fran at this very moment, risking his life to ask some tech yahoo can he afford a $400 expense. ;)

      • JeffD says:

        I’ll be putting $50 in the mail tomorrow. Heads up, Wolf.

    • dang says:

      you might want to drop the phrase, ” beaten like a stray dog” which conjures up a mental picture of you as the only one that said that and what the hell do you mean.

      Just saying

      the best

      • sufferinsucatash says:

        “Beaten like a rented mule” is much better.

        Thanks David Letterman. Your comedy was amazing.

    • NBay says:


      I also WILL FULLY ADMIT I was skeptical of Wolf’s numbers. In fact, they still just don’t seem right. But Fed data leads to Fed decisions… matter what anyone thinks of any of it. And this is my only financial site also, except glancing at Yahoo Finance.

      Please continue the other BS…’s kinda fun.

  3. Ooopsy says:

    [content deleted by evil censor Wolf — see my reply below]

    • Wolf Richter says:

      1. Your first and second paragraphs were BS, so I deleted them.

      So here are some actual facts: Only 43% of credit CARDS (not people) carry revolving balances, according to the American Bankers Association. But people with interest-bearing balances have multiple cards with balances. So the number of PEOPLE that pay interest on credit cards is much smaller.

      in addition, lots of people don’t even have credit cards, only debit cards. Consumers spent over $4 trillion with debit cards a year. And they’re paid off anyway.

      So and 9% of all adults not paying off their cards this month (statement by the Fed) sounds about right.

      2. Your second and third paragraphs were unrelated and likely also BS, and so I deleted them. Not worth thinking about or replying.

      3. Your fourth paragraph was BS, and I deleted it. I crushed this BS in my article above, and I further blew this BS to smithereens in the article linked below, which was also linked in the article above:

  4. Julie says:

    Thanks for this explanation Wolf. I’m still confused about something though. The 37 percent:

    “As we learned above, some of them have the cash, but choose to keep the cash for other emergencies, and instead sell assets or borrow to pay for the expense.”

    This sounds odd to me. Thirty-seven percent have $400 cash for an emergency but ‘choose’ not to use it in an emergency? They sell assets or borrow? Who does that? If they’re doing ok the $400 should be right there without scrambling.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      It makes perfect sense to me in certain situations. I used to do that in my younger years (just out of MBA school) when I had stocks in my portfolio, but was tight on operating cash because I wanted to maximize my exposure to stocks. And when I needed something where I had some time to deal with it, I might take money out of my brokerage account and save the bank cash for a real emergency where I wouldn’t have time to sell stocks and to transfer funds. I could have also charged it to the credit card, but then I would have to pay interest on it. It was part of my plan. I also used it for bigger-ticket items I wanted to buy, such as a new couch.

      • bulfinch says:

        A good couch is one of the great unsung expenses.

      • Occam says:

        I remember long ago being a young father of two infant boys, being a new homeowner, being the sole support for the family until the boys went to school, having $12000 in our savings account and having $12000 in credit card debt that we bounced around between cards. Income was pretty good but a zero net worth and a lot of responsibilities just starting out kept us highly focused and wanting access to cash in case of a significant setback. A stretch of unemployment or illness could have derailed us but fortunately it didn’t happen and off we went. Good luck and no student loans helped; it was possible to pay for a public university education without loans in those days if you planned it carefully.

        • Joe in LA says:

          I totally relate to this. University was nearly free for me and the education paid off — both for me and for the state. I’ve paid well over a million just in income taxes alone — and I’m sure that’s vastly more than whatever the state paid for my education.

          For the life of me, I cannot figure out why Americans think it’s a good idea to charge kids to learn. It’s just seems suicidally stupid.

        • Digger Dave says:

          Liberal arts degrees? Absolutely they should pay for these. Never mind some of the ideas kids get indoctrinated with at these programs – society is paying a high price for an endless stream of mindless consumers with very little knowledge of civics or the constitution.

          Trades and real professions? Absolutely they should go for free. Except anyone getting a professional degree for free should have an equivalent period of modest salary indentured public service for payback. It does no good to have a society produce high six figure earners right out of the gate if there is no public benefit.

        • Flaming Anarchist says:

          $400 is nothing if you own a car or house. Mechanic rates in Canada are $100 to $150/hr. An electrician or plumber is at least $100/hr

        • Cas127 says:

          Joe in LA,

          The problem isn’t that Americans won’t subsidize “education”, it is that the middlemen-bureaucrat, teacher-industrial complex has proven itself corrupt for decades…grossly increasing expenditures (their own income) while providing worse and worse educational outcomes.

          (This is pretty typical for politically-connected, heavily subsidized industries – see “health care”, “military”, etc.).

  5. Matthew Scott says:

    That is still a lot of people living on the edge economically…

    • sufferinsucatash says:

      The people without phones to do this survey.

    • dougzero says:

      Yes. My anecdote: The termite inspection guy came to do the house I live in. He was the same guy for the 3rd year. Nice guy. I asked what he was going to do for fun for the memorial day weekend. He said he would be doing nothing as he is waiting for his paycheck at the end of the month. He has been working steady for at least 3 years in a low paying job, and has no money, living on the edge.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        That’s a patently silly example. There are lots of fun things to do on Memorial Day that are FREE. You just need to get off your butt. That guy just didn’t have his head on straight. And you take him seriously and consider his statement symbolic of anything other than a guy not having his head on straight?

        • dougzero says:

          Yes, he is doing the best he can with ‘not having his head on straight’, holding a steady job. I felt sorry for him. Maybe he was angling for a tip? but I did not think so.
          I did suggest multiple free things in the area, and on TV.

        • Diana says:

          I always avoid doing anything on public holidays, the crowds and jacked up prices are a major turn-off. Having these public holidays is so 20th century. Celebrating is fine but let me take the time off when I want, not when the Feds decide for me.

      • sufferinsucatash says:

        I know inflation has smacked me down. Let alone a guy making 60k or whatever Termite guys get.

        He could grill some of the antagonists, I’ve heard they have a nutty flavor.

        But then that’s bringing your work home.

      • Jorge says:

        Case in point: Just finished the second day of Jazz night in Atlanta. Free in Piedmont park. Good people watching with my fiancé and her gf. We went to Kroger before, got some subs and wine and chips. Total cost: $30

      • NYguy says:

        Maybe he inadvertently takes some termites home from work with him and theyre eating his cash!

        They eat wood, wouldnt paper be like ice cream to them?

    • Yort says:

      Emotionally charged comments, so maybe I’ll type some stats to show that sometimes luck and timing play a big role, along with other known factors in which we actually can control as individuals.

      Housing wealth seems to be key to having enough “wealth” and thus ability to pay for emergency expenses.

      Per 2022 Insider wealth survey article:

      $255,0000 – Median net worth of homeowner
      $6,300 – Median net worth of non-homeowner

      Urban living individuals have about 40% more wealth:

      $126,000 Median urban net worth
      $90,400 Median rural net worth

      Education is individuals key to wealth building (note future useful degree, not just any degree):

      $20,500 – No high school diploma
      $302,200 – College degree

      Median versus Average statistics can be deceiving, as a few hold more wealth that the many as per median net worth per age:

      $76,000 (avg), $13,900 (median) – Under 35 years old
      $997,600 (avg), $254,800 (median – Over 75 years old

      I agree with the article, Americans are not poor, especially compared to other countries. That said, America has created the most ridiculously expensive construct of a “normal” living standards which simply drain bank accounts as quickly as can be re-filled for a majority of citizens. And if it wasn’t for “asset” appreciation, tied to money printing, the devaluation of the USD, and endless debt, our current reality would be much “less” as wages simple have not kept up with inflation rates, and productivity is falling, thus we are going backwards economically on a global scale at the moment.
      So hopefully the A.I. hype turns out be be our friendly future savior and not just another financial bubble, TBD…

      • Kiers says:

        No, Americans are stratospherically wealthy. The Fed is as usual mis-leading, i dont’ know how many were surveyed, but of the top 30 banks in the US (a total of ~$11 Trillion in deposits), only 32% of those deposits are < $250K in size. The Fed KNOWS this. Lot of psychodrama. Reality quite the opposite.

  6. Dick says:

    I found this article informative. I read the comments (from a previous article) and saw how this article came about. I think wolf is right about one thing and that is the headlines intentionally being misleading. Mark Twain said it best I think about stats. Morgan and Morgan, one of the biggest plaintiff firms in the US (cockroaches of the planet) site the same stats in their commercials that Wolf is debunking. I think if people sniff reality they too can come to the conclusion that most people in an emergency can find a couple hundred bucks.

    • Yort says:

      Which article title would more people click to read:

      “Americans can easily make a $400 emergency payment”


      “Americans can not make a $400 emergency payment”

      One title makes people feel better perhaps, that either they have the $400 that others don’t, that they don’t have the $400 and feel better others don’t either, or just curiosity of the human detriment of others in a rubber-necking way? Maybe just curious in order to avoid the same fate by learning from the lessons of others???

      Seems human nature. Like the human nature bear survival example, you don’t need to outrun the bear, just be able to outrun the person behind you. Perhaps “feels” better knowing a few are behind you, or at least a few are beside you and you are not alone? And are you not curious about the bear, be it a cocaine bear, a panda bear, or a teddy???

  7. Depth Charge says:

    So 54% of people can’t handle an emergency over $1,999 without selling something? Where are all those wealthy Americans we just heard about? Because this is a staggering statistic.

    • Ltlftc says:

      Having cash sitting in a 0.01% apr savings account does not make one wealthy.

    • El Katz says:

      As Wolf wrote earlier, selling “something” could be a security or even a brokered CD. It doesn’t mean selling a kidney.

      • Old Ghost says:

        Around here there are places to sell blood. (not the Red Cross). I know a much younger couple that sell blood (not whole blood, but plasma ?) once a month. They claim the money is good, more than enough to cover that $400 expense. (sorry, don’t remember the exact amount — I’m old).

        I am also creeped out by the thought that a business would take someone’s blood out, run it through a machine, and then put some of it back in. Yuck. Still, it seems to be a booming business, their parking lot is always full when I drive by.

        OK. That was a weird tangent to go off on. Hope it doesn’t tick Wolf off.

        • dang says:

          My opinion is that you are evaluating the reality all wrong. The blood product, after the plasma extraction and the routine re-injection of the uncontaminated residual bulk of the sample, the humans stroll down the street, cash in hand.

          Knowing that they probably just saved someones life as a result of their blood donation. It’s actually an elegant system.

        • OutsideTheBox says:


          Hope your kidneys stay healthy.

          You just described dialysis.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Old – hope you NEVER experience an exsanguinating event wherein the replacement fluid that might keep you with us isn’t there in time, or at all…

          may we all find a better day.

  8. SWE Josh says:

    “Cash or its cash equivalent” is defined by the report as “exclusively using cash, savings, or a credit card paid off at the next statement (referred to, altogether, as ‘cash or its equivalent’).”

    Are tbills and money market funds considered “savings” for the purpose of their definition? Or does the money need to be in a savings account in a bank? This may help explain some of the discrepancy between the people who would need to sell an asset and the people who have access to the cash immediately.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      In terms of MM funds, the survey doesn’t specify. Since you have to “sell” shares in a money market fund to take cash out, I assume that this falls under the “sell assets to pay for an emergency expense” category.

      Bills are assets that you would have to sell or wait till maturity.

  9. Michael Engel says:

    BRK/B is an expanding triangle, a megaphone.
    BRK/B weekly close Renko 3.00 look like 1929/1931.

    • Engel's Super-Ego says:

      The company of the great eau of Nebraska cornfields sees this and knows, so wisdom bestows: stop taking action and start sitting around.

    • old school says:

      I did my review of brk last night. Be patient. With 4% 30 year and 3% risk premium, 14 X operating earnings I get just over $200 – $210 for b shares.

      • old_school says:

        oops. Forgot about what Buffet calls pass through earnings. Probably $250 per b share is OK price if you are hoping for 10% plus annualized return. I get operating earnings plus “passthrough” earnings about $37- $39B.

  10. Michael Engel says:

    Brian Moneyham, Bank of America : those who had few hundred dollars have an average 3,500 in their checking accounts.
    Those who had few thousands have over 10,000 in their checking accounts.
    The answers were known in advance.
    Can people survive a recession and a prolong unemployment for either husband or wife plus kids, paying : a mortgage, car loans, school, medical insurance, food…Do they need 50K/100K cash to survive.

  11. Herpderp says:

    Thanks for this article Wolf, Ive seen that 400 number tossed around in so many articles over the years its nice to see the actual data and wording behind the survey. Also wise of them to ask for the greatest expense people could afford. $400 isn’t so much these days. Maybe a tire or two.

    • Harrold says:

      This is far more informative than the usual click bait articles. But it still doesn’t get to the essence. How many people don’t have ready cash, but DO HAVE iphones, TVs and cable subscriptions, big car payments, eat out 3x a day every day, pay someone to do simple chores, etc …

      Lots of people who appear to be wealthy are putting on a show for the Jones’s.

  12. Publius says:

    Shouldn’t the survey increase the ’emergency’ amount? It doesn’t take much of an emergency to cost $400 these days. Replacing 1 tire cost us $250 or so for the basic OEM.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      There is also “3 months expenses” and “how big of an emergency expense can you cover?” Read more than the headline.

    • sufferinsucatash says:

      My tires were $400 each this last time.


      • Flea says:

        Was in wal- mart had tires on clearance goy 4 tires for Highlander 218$ brand new,don’t need them yet but nothing is getting cheaper.Do we even produce tires in USA

        • El Katz says:

          Yes, we do produce tires in the USA. Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Cooper, Yokohama, Continental….. to name a few.

          The Walmart tires are likely not…..

  13. Max Power says:

    FYI, There’s a minor typo in the first sentence under the “The $400 emergency” heading.

  14. cresus says:

    I could write a $4 million check without even looking. And I would still look like a pauper. Different people, different lives. All good.

  15. Jim K says:

    There are many who could not scratch together $400 in an emergency, but these types of reports don’t really shed light on the correct numbers. I am one of those people who sell assets to pay for unexpected emergencies. I chose to withdraw from my IRA each month to cover my bills in excess of my SS, rather than maintain a balance in a 0.1%ish bank account. If I have an emergency, I pay it on my highest cash-back credit card, and pay off balance each month from my IRA. So I, and probably many thousands of others who do the same thing, would be counted as “needing to sell assets”, as if that makes us on the edge? My and many other’s IRAs will last 25-35 years, so this report misrepresents a major sector of the population. They need better questions, or they shouldn’t publish this type of clickbait.

    • MM says:

      I do exactly the same, more or less:

      Any unplanned expense goes right on the credit card, and then I have a month to let a couple rungs of my CD ladder mature and pay off the card balance before it accrues interest.

      I’ve had some expensive car repairs over the last couple years and this system works well for that.

      • Jim K says:

        I used to do that too, but right now MM Funds are the new CDs, and more liquid. Plus, they can be used as “collateral” for options trading, double your earnings, double your fun.

    • Sufferinsucatash says:

      Well what the fed needs to help are the people who cannot afford a $400 expense. Because these “on hard times” folks are severely taken advantage of by payday loans, money cards etc etc.

      I think Russel Simmons had a money card he made millions off of. Subjecting the poor to high fees just because you come across as successful to those people.

  16. MM says:

    I appreciate the new question on this survey, as selling assets to cover an expense doesn’t necessarily indicate financial distress.

    How many folks keep their extra cash in something that falls under the asset category to earn a yield, but that can be liquidated easily?

    There are several liquid MMFs out there, and its fairly easy to make a CD/bill ladder with a rung that matures each week. The latter is what I do, as I’d prefer to keep as little cash in non-interest-bearing accounts as possible.

    Thanks for all your insights, Wolf.

  17. Flea says:

    I bought a new fridge 25 quibice feet 700$ scratch and dent NFM no dents ,salesmen said they put these in houses until there appliance came in 1/2 price .

  18. Anthony A. says:

    My dental implant (tooth #8) fell out while at a restaurant one morning. That was a $400 emergency (dentist had to remount it).

    If I would have not found the tooth, it could have been a $2,000 emergency.

  19. Jeff Harbaugh says:

    It would be interesting I think to know the level of government benefits The people in the survey received. How would the statistics change lacking those benefits? I am not arguing for or against those benefits here. I just be curious to see their impact.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Red herring. By far the biggest such “benefit” is Social Security. Recipients are of retirement age and paid into this pension system all their working lives.

      So you want take ALL retirement benefits out the equation??? This stuff is just nuts.

  20. Random guy 62 says:

    I initially held a belief close to the “average person can’t handle a $400 expense” line but have reluctantly accepted the truth looks more like Wolf’s summary here. The average American is not riding THAT close to financial ruin.

    Trying to square these stats with my lived experience through the folks I know…friends, family, co-workers. And at least half of people I encounter are handling their money with at least some intention.

    Still a LOT of bad money situations and bad money behaviors out there. And things start to get ugly quick with widespread job losses. Selling things in tough times means lower prices. Probably a lot of underwater camper payments out there…

  21. Michael Engel says:

    The radicals on both sides puked. It’s sunshine again. The debt ceiling
    clouds are gone. It’s sunshine again. It’s time to plant tomatoes seeds in the garden.
    If enough is enough of u hide your money under the tomatoes plants,
    buy creepto or invest in gold, to avoid the raiders, sucking liquidity from the banks
    ==> the banking crisis will worsen. The want of dollar might rise globally.
    The SVB bank “event” was a warning shot. All IOU money got paid.

    • phleep says:

      Sounds like it could have come from the mystical, elliptical, oracular Chauncey Gardener in “Being There.”

  22. Michael Engel says:

    The man behind McC looks worried : because the o/n rates might popup.

  23. Julie says:

    It’s funny the way this $400 survey is so open to confirmation bias. The people who think things are just fine assume ‘selling assets’ in this instance probably means some anodyne financial shuffling.

    Others think it might mean cashing out life insurance or selling your guitar and amps.

    We’re only talking about 6% here anyway so whatever is going on, 37% is a large number of people who are not doing that well IMO. And this doesn’t include the 13% who are completely broke?

    As posters have mentioned, $400 is a low estimate for an emergency in the first place. We need a better survey.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      RTGDFA (Read The G*d D**n F***ing Article) — there are three elements in the article and survey. The $400 is just one of them — and not even the first one in the article. But it was in the subtitle, and so you felt compelled to comment on it without having read anything else? I’m so tired of this dumb BS. If you cannot read the article, don’t comment on the article. Commenting guidelines #1

      • Julie says:

        I did read the entire article, calm down.

        I was actually going to add that only 46% can handle an emergency over $2000 without borrowing or selling assets didn’t sound so positive either.

        You know, sometimes these pieces aren’t that well written, Wolf, and you need a machete to hack through the jargon and numbers.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I wrote this piece explicitly to crack down on the utterly ridiculous BS media headlines about this Fed report, and those headlines are always kind of the same, just clickbait garbage about how Americans are so poor that half of them or whatever cannot pay for a $400 emergency expense. Crushing that misrepresentation BS once and for all was the only purpose of this article.

          The trigger for this article were comments in the prior article on CONSUMER SPENDING where several commenters cited this garbage BS headline crap as evidence that Americans are broke and on the edge of a cliff, or whatever. And I am so tired of having to waste my time shooting this crap down over and over again, which I have done for years. It’s always the same copy-and-paste BS braindead headlines about this $400 expense that people drag into the comments, or about Americans being broke or on the edge of a cliff or whatever. I’m now in total crackdown mode. I’ve had it. I will no longer allow commenters to abuse my site to spread this BS.

          Some Americans are very wealthy, others are very poor, but there is this huge layer in the middle composed of people doing OK-ish to being very well off. There is a HUGE amount of wealth among Americans, and it’s spread around quite far, and lots of commenters here are somewhere in this middle layer. And I’m tired of all this “Americans are broke” BS in the comments of every article on consumer spending and retail sales. This BS needs to be spread somewhere else, not here. And I’m cracking down.

    • NYguy says:

      13% are broke. Huh. Where have I seen that number before? Seems to be popping its head up all over the news. 13%, 13%, all hail the 13%!

    • MM says:

      “selling your guitar and amps”

      Unless you’re a touring musician, these are luxury items and have probably held their value over the years. You’re not really that broke.

  24. JoshWx says:

    Just another comprehensive piece of evidence provided by Wolf that indicates the average American is better off than feared. The job market is hot, wage gains are solid, and most consumers have enough in savings to handle at least a modest emergency expense. The party ain’t over until it’s over, but for the time being, enjoy the ride while the good times roll.

    • William Leake says:

      To Mr. Powell,
      Please increase tightening. Faster, higher, longer.
      I need more stimulus.

  25. JeffD says:

    “30% would be in deep trouble if they have no income for three months.”

    These are the people who spend essentially their entire paycheck every month, at all income levels, and have essentially no wealth. I figured it was a lot, but now I have a number for it. Thanks for reporting on this.

  26. Michael Engel says:

    If true from 32T + 4T to ==> 36T in two years, or from 10T in 2008
    to 36T in 16 years

  27. Sporkfed says:

    I look at the personal savings rate data
    to determine how stressed Joe Sixpack
    is or isn’t. The savings rate is low now,
    especially compared to the pandemic
    era and before.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      All the “savings rate” is is the ratio Personal Consumption Expenditures and income from all sources, but not including capital gains, minus taxes.

      So let me repeat: it does NOT include capital gains, realized or unrealized, including from selling a house or stocks.

      • Sporkfed says:

        I get that. But the bottom 50% own
        very few stocks and what they do own is likely to be tied up in a retirement account. Those who can
        sell assets are more likely to be
        at, or nearly retirement age.

  28. SoCalBeachDude says:

    DM: Speaker Kevin McCarthy says student loan repayment pause will END 60 days after President Biden signs debt ceiling deal

    Kevin McCarthy said that if the debt ceiling deal goes through, student loan repayments will resume after three years of deferment. The House Speaker said that the loan payment pause will be ‘gone’ 60 days after the bill is signed by President Biden. He said that the student loan repayment income brings in $5 billion every month to help fund the federal government. The California Republican’s come after he and Joe Biden came to an ‘agreement in principle’ late Saturday night to cap spending and raise the debt ceiling after a months-long stalemate on the matter.

  29. Ron Cathali says:

    [Content deleted by evil censor Wolf]

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I’m so tired of people throwing up on the comments here, based on what they THINK is in the article, without having read anything in the article. This lazy dumb shit has got to stop.

      • Shelby Stone says:

        Why don’t you do like the MSM and simply remove the comments section altogether?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I’m tempted some days. And I did shut the comments down on a couple of articles recently. But I LOVE the comments. They’re really good overall, funny and fun. It’s just exasperating sometimes to keep them on track and to keep these silly headlines out of them.

  30. dang says:

    Whether we like it or not, there is a cadre of citizens that are unable to attain the dream of being rich but would gladly settle for enough money to get through tomorrow.

    We, as a society, have an obligation to figure out how to design a system that will deal with the situations that arise. A system like social security except one that we don’t have to pay back all the money we borrowed and blew. I am not buying the bleating about how we have to pay for an increase in the military budget with another decrease in the standard of living for the American society.

  31. SoCalBeachDude says:

    The fact of the matter is that there has never been more money sloshing around America than there is at this time as is very clearly documented with more than $22 trillion in M2 in bank accounts and hundreds of trillions of dollar in other assets. What is problematic is the hundreds of trillions of dollars of debt outstanding in the US. But even talking about such a trivial and meaningless sum of $400 is beyond absurd.

  32. dang says:

    IMO, the synthetic America is about to evolve into their own awakening that I experienced at the end of the disco and glam band era.

    And for a short while could resort to my comfort zone, rock and roll.

    Blissfully unaware of what lie ahead.

    America is the best work force in the world and America should be open for domestic industry over foreign manufacturers which should never be allowed to supply more than 15% of the domestic market for any critically important products.

    It’s all one’s point of view which for most of us was shaped by life experience.

  33. Occam says:

    Ruining a great nation’s currency and economy takes a while. Prolonged QE and trillions in free Covid money monetized by the Fed are the early stages and the early stages always feel good. As an example, Venezuelans prospered and enjoyed the first ten years or so of Chavez’s rule; it was the later years that brought disaster. Monetized deficits and high inflation will eventually be rationalized and accepted in the US because there is no other way to honor all of the huge commitments the government has made, and the Fed is part of the government.

  34. Depth Charge says:

    We are in the most grotesque B U B B L E in history. Stanley Druckenmiller said something lately to the effect of “not only have I never seen something like this in my lifetime, I’ve never read about anything like this in history.”

    This is an abortion of an economic model. They just printed a bunch of fiat currency and spread it around like they had just found the magic money tree. History has shown this doesn’t work, yet these disgusting megalomaniacs running things had the hubris to think they could ignore it and engineer an entirely different outcome.

    There will be hell to pay, and it won’t be the wealthy paying it, it will be the middle and lower classes. Hope all the working people are saving up an extra $400 per month for a new car – that’s an EXTRA $400 every month on top of what the car costs – because that’s how much new car prices are increasing per month.

    Oh, and used car prices are appreciating again, too. Not depreciating, APPRECIATING. That’s normal, right, depreciating assets are appreciating?

  35. Petunia says:

    Back in 2011 we sold “assets” to cover an emergency. The emergency was no food in the house and our electric was about to get turned off. The “assets” we sold were are gold wedding rings, in our 21st year of marriage. For the next 5 years we never had an extra $400 in the bank.

    What we learned the hard way after losing a house, cars, savings, everything, is that middle class life is a seesaw for everybody, whether they know it our not. Lots of people on this site think their home equity, savings, 401Ks, are a buffer against a downturn, they are not. I saw my home equity(50%) disappear in a couple of months, my savings lasted 2 years of no employment, my pension disappeared into the Bear Stearns/JPM rabbit hole. And just like most people on this site, I thought I was doing fine, before I wasn’t.

    This year was our 33rd year of marriage and my husband bought me the most expensive wedding ring he could manage. Yes, it took 12 years to reach some semblance of our former life.

    • Sporkfed says:

      There is a lot of what I call “locality bias”.
      A person tends to think that their experiences and economic conditions are widespread when in reality, they vary greatly. I live a comfortable middle class life but my former employment to me
      to some of the poorest areas in the country. The disparity is widening.

    • Mike R. says:

      America has been living way beyond its means. That means the entire country. All this “wealth” could disappear in a heartbeat. 401Ks, IRAs, housing “value” and millions of jobs.

      All it will take is full loss of faith in our currency, the dollar. The new faith won’t be the ruble or the yuan, it will be gold. Real gold, not paper gold.

      • SoCalBeachDude says:

        Gold is nothing but a trivial little asset used mostly in the jewelry business which is increasingly shunning the stuff due to it being extremely overpriced and of increasingly less interest to customers who are turning to sterling silver plated with rhodium. The US Dollar has never been more important and is used is more than 80% of all global transactions with no other currency even being slightly significant as a competitor.

        • Mike R. says:

          You must not follow international developments.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          …observing SCBD’s comments for awhile, I often find what seems to be a deeply-nuanced ‘s’ without the switch…

          (…and what constitutes SoCal Beach ‘Dudedness’, these days? My time on Pacific, Mission, Ocean, Silver Strand and LaJolla Shores was many, many decades ago…).

          may we all find a better day.

      • MM says:

        If everyone’s 401(k)s really do go poof, the most precious metal will be lead not gold.

        Still seems like a far-out scenario at this point, albeit getting closer…

    • Lucca says:

      Good comment Petunia. I agree, a lot of people on this site like to brag and think they are wealthier than they really are.

    • Flea says:

      I grew up with a grandmother from depression,who told me to never buy anything I couldn’t pay for. Had a new car at 19 first loan .then mostly paid cash ,not easy live well below your means for 10 years. Bad neighborhood s are full of good people,eat cheaply drive old cars .Good things will come to u God Bless everyone on this holiday

    • old school says:

      You and your husband are amazing for keeping your marriage together through loosing nearly everything. That is pretty rare.

      You have shared your story here a few times. It’s very interesting to me and sounds like you have the makings of a good book. If you aren’t a writer, maybe you can tell your story in detail to a Ghost Writer.

      I know several people that got wiped out during GFC.

      • Petunia says:

        We saw relationships disintegrate all around us as this unfolded, marriages, friendships, familial relationships too. We also experienced unbelievable generosity from many people, with whom we will always be indebted. In the end our greatest asset was marriage, our public commitment to each other.

  36. Michael Engel says:

    36T ==> 36,000,000,000,000.
    Einstein : $400/$36T = 11/1,000,000,000,000.

  37. Michael Engel says:

    1) Petunia : “my saving lasted two years of no employment”. U sold your gold ring in 2011 at peak.
    2) A stress test : how many people can survive 2 years of unemployment for either husband or wife.
    3) Will the Fed raid in on your 2 years saving for an IOU.
    4) $70,000 (2Y saving)/ $35T ==> 2/1,000,000,000.
    5) Gov interest payment on $35T debt : $1T/y.
    $70,000/ 1T ==> 70/1,000,000,000. Your $70K will not help the gov, neither student loan payments.
    6) The boomers will pay the price for future generations. Gen Z will get boomers assets for 25 cents/1$.

  38. Michael Engel says:

    Spain election : the center left lost. The center left was in bed with the radical left. This election was about the high level of debt/GDP, youth unemployment, social and housing laws. The left lost for future generations. Big cuts are coming to Spain.
    In Turkey : no change.

  39. WaterDog says:

    In B4 Escierto starts spouting his BS about how rich kids are these days and they all make gobs of money…

    Ironically his son has to scam 2 WFH jobs to make $144k

    I found an “official” article showing he’s full of it btw:

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I deleted the link because it was an article from over 3 years ago, before the pandemic, and income that Millennials earn as they age three years and move into higher-paying positions has gone up a lot. That always happens when people are approaching their peak earnings years. They get promoted, they make more, they find higher-paying jobs, they’re starting to become C-level executives, successful money managers and doctors and what not, and instead of working in restaurants, some of them are starting their own restaurants and others are running restaurants, and instead of working in construction, they’re running construction crews, become contractors, etc. and lots of things change in three years, especially during the huge employment and wage boom we saw in 2021 and 2022.

  40. spencer says:

    How many emergencies did Biden’s stimulus checks cover?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You mean “Trump’s and Biden’s?” Because the first two were under Trump. The last one was under Biden.

      Those stimulus payments and all the other monies that were handed out covered a lot of stuff, including allowing subprime-rated consumers to get caught up on their credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages, and so delinquency rates fell to record lows, third-party collections fell to record lows, and bankruptcies fell to record lows. That has now started to revert back to the Good Times lows before the pandemic. We covered all this here extensively.

  41. Michael Engel says:

    The first stimulus check was $800B TARP, to the banks, under Bush,
    Hank Paulson and Ben.

    • SoCalBeachDude says:

      That was no in any way a ‘stimulus’ check and all of the TARP funds were repaid except for a small amount from GM and a very few other companies. Moreover, TARP had nothing to do with the Federal Reserve and was a US Treasury payment to companies.

      The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was instituted by the U.S. Treasury following the 2008 financial crisis. TARP ‘stabilized’ the financial system by having the government buy mortgage-backed securities and bank stocks. From 2008 to 2010, TARP invested $426.4 billion in firms and recouped $441.7 billion in return.

  42. Wolf Richter says:

    The first modern stimulus checks were sent to consumers in early 2008. The law was enacted under Bush in 2007.

    TARP was enacted in Oct 2008.

  43. Laura says:

    Does everyone believe that 3200 given per individual allow for living on easy street?
    The trickle down economy has left the building for at least 40 years with the last 10 being the absolute worst.
    I abhor debt and don’t imbibe but it has been extremely hard to eek out savings when you live paycheck to paycheck,

  44. Carlos Leiro says:

    hello. Excuse my ignorance.
    What about student debt? I think there are adult people who still have student debt.
    What happens if the job you had paid you for medical coverage?

  45. Michael Engel says:

    1) The Financial Service Regulatory Act of 2006 effective Oct 2011, allowed
    the Fed to raid in people bank accounts, saving accounts and CDs in emergencies.
    2) Congress hurried it in Sep 2008. 800B of wealthy people money were “borrowed” and transferred to the banks for an IOU.
    3) The next US treasury used the Anti Regulatory Act to control the long duration for the first time ever.
    4) In Mar 2020 the Anti was used to distribute wealth to the middle class and poor.
    5) US gov debt reached 32T in 2023. 32T IOU to the Fed, IOU from the Fed
    –> to the banks –> IOU from the banks to u.

  46. Michael Engel says:

    MSFT bear market rally might be over. A trader who short MSFT “borrowed” MSFT from somebody else for an IOU.

  47. Michael Engel says:

    Fox and MSNBC keep people stupid. Wolf allows other people ideas,
    curious stupid ideas…He is more open, unbiased.

  48. J Tanner says:

    Looked at the latest BAC !0 Q SEC filings. Although payments on loans, houses commercial real estate were holding up, there was a definite uptick from 828 mil in March from 717 mil in Dec that were “Accruing Past Due
    90 Days or More”. Canary in the coal mine?

  49. Zard says:

    When the SHTF, that 30% that can’t handle a 3 months of starvation can do a lot of damage. What is the % of Afghan population that was causing a huge headache for US forces?
    It doesn’t take 5-10% to create a huge mess for everyone.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      We do have unemployment insurance in this country, and there are other aspects of the safety net. The “three months expenses” assumed $0 cash inflow, but unemployment insurance helps a lot.

  50. Em C says:

    “Selling assets” is a pretty broad category. Selling a sliver of one’s portfolio is not the same as selling one’s only car.

Comments are closed.