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Americans will likely run out of excess pandemic savings this quarter: study

Americans will likely deplete the rest of the excess savings they accumulated during the pandemic this quarter, according to a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

After rapidly accumulating “unprecedented” levels of excess savings during the pandemic, the San Francisco Fed estimates American households held less than $190 billion in aggregate excess savings as of June. 

Excess savings peaked at $2.1 trillion in August 2021, far exceeding the projected trend line from before the pandemic. 

However, American households began to pull from these excess savings more rapidly starting in 2022, averaging about $100 billion per month in drawdowns and totaling $1.9 trillion as of this June, according to the study.

If drawdowns continue at the same pace, excess savings will likely be depleted in the third quarter of 2023, which ends in September, the San Francisco Fed found.

“The rapid accumulation and subsequent drawdown of excess savings following the onset of the pandemic recession contrasts starkly with prior recessions,” the study noted.

But Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said Thursday he is doubtful excess savings will be depleted this quarter. By contrast, he said Moody’s is estimating excess savings will end the quarter at close to $1 trillion.

“Our estimate is consistent with deposits held by consumers,” Zandi said in a series of posts on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. 

“They surged during the teeth of the pandemic, and have been winding down since late ‘21 as high inflation bit into real incomes,” he continued. “But deposits are still well above what they would have been based on pre-pandemic growth.”

He also said the debate over the amount of excess savings held by American households is “quickly becoming less important.”

“That’s because of the easing in inflation, income growth is now stronger than inflation,” Zandi said. “The need for excess savings to support continued sturdy consumer spending is thus fading.”

Inflation has eased since reaching a 40-year high of 9.1 percent last June. Consumer prices rose 3.2 percent last month, marking the first upward tick in inflation after 13 months of falling rates.

Tags consumer Economy economy Mark Zandi Pandemic Pandemic Politics savings savings

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