Robert L. Bartley Editor Emeritus, The Wall Street Journal As this collection of essays is published, markets, regulators and society generally are sorting through the wreckage of the collapse in tech stocks at the turn of the millennium. All the more reason for an exhaustive look at our last "bubble," if that is what we choose to call them. We haven't had time to digest the lesson of the tech stocks and the recession that started in March 2001. After a decade, though, we're ready to understand the savings and loan "bubble" that popped in 1989, preceding the recession that started in July 1990. For more than a half-century, we can now see clearly enough, the savings and loans were an accident waiting to happen. The best insurance for financial institutions is diversification, but the savings and loans were concentrated solely in residential financing. What's more, they were in the business of borrowing short and lending long, accepting deposits that could be withdrawn quickly and making 20-year loans. They were further protected by Regulation Q, allowing them to pay a bit more for savings deposits than commercial banks were allowed to. In normal times, they could ride the yield curve, booking profits because long-term interest rates are generally higher than short-term ones. This world was recorded in Jimmy Stewart's 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life.
The key to understanding household saving is obtaining appropriate data. Dealing with differences between rich and poor households, for example, or the old and the young, require observation of a large number of households. The focus of this study is to obtain data on many households from a number of different countries and to examine them in a coherent fashion. The hope is that through these observations we can learn about the ways policies affect savings and that other differences among savers can be controlled for, instead of being blamed on "cultural differences
Thrift Savings Plan: A Practical Guide to the TSP, is a valuable information source for all federal employees. Regardless of what agency you may work for chances are you received little or no explanation of the in's and out's of the TSP when you first started working for Uncle SAM. This booklet covers many of the details that are relevant and important to all TSP participants. The booklet will take you from what happens when you sign up for the TSP through your retirement withdrawals. If you are like most federal employees you may be participating in the TSP but you may not be aware of how the TSP is set up or works. While this booklet does not go into how to invest in the TSP funds, it does provide an explanation of the funds available for plan participants in which funds can be invested. Along these lines, it also discusses a few ways to diversify your TSP holdings and maximize your potential returns at the same time with some real life examples. While the booklet does not get into investment tactics it, does provide an excellent overview and discussions of the way the TSP is set up and works in general. So if you are a federal employee what are you waiting for? Buy Thrift Savings Plan: A Practical Guide to the TSP now.
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