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Are Premium Bonds the answer to the US savings problem?

Topic closed. 2 replies. Last post 2 years ago by Todd.

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Bondi Junction
Member #57242
December 24, 2007
1102 Posts
Posted: October 15, 2015, 8:58 am - IP Logged

After one of the greatest spending splurges in history, how do you convince the great American public to mend the error of their ways and start putting a few dollars aside each month?

The savings ratio in the US has tumbled in recent years – see this chart for the official figures:bea.gov/national

Many American financial minds are focusing on how to improve it. The brains behind theFreakonomics  books – economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner – put together a fascinating podcast earlier this month on exactly this issue.

Their investigation latched on to the great universal love of lotteries. People are indifferent about earning a few cents in interest, they concluded, but are fixated on the opportunity of getting rich quick. You don't need to be an economist to work that out, I hear you say.

They then go on to share with their fellow Americans a rather quaint and quirky 54-year-old savings plan that already does this – our very own Premium Bonds – marvelling at its effectiveness of how a £1m prize encourages saving.Pbond1_203x150

I'm not convinced that it necessarily encourages regular saving – although this is permitted from £50 a month - but it’s a rare pleasure to hear Americans envying over a British invention.




We all get a lot out of lotteries!

    Bondi Junction
    Member #57242
    December 24, 2007
    1102 Posts
    Posted: October 15, 2015, 9:02 am - IP Logged

    In the US, a successful 'Save to Win' credit union scheme has launched this year in the low-income rustbelt of Michigan. But Dubner and Levitt suggest the lucrative monopoly of lottery schemes in most states, run by, er, the state, means a national roll-out is unlikely.

    But aside from improving consumers' finances, there are other benefits. A scheme in South Africa, which paid prizes electronically, dramatically improved the proportion of the population with bank accounts – a breakthrough in financial inclusion.Pbond2_203x150

    And, as the British government has found, they are lucrative. National Savings & Investments, which runs Premium Bonds, gives no specific breakdown but its overall efforts save the Government £400m a year. In other words, borrowing from small UK savers rather than from international investors, by selling gilt-edged bonds, works out £400m a year cheaper.

    You would think the US government, heavily in debt, would lap up the chance to raise money on the cheap. After all, Japan has been able to cope with its debts in recent decades - far larger than anywhere else - by turning to its domestic savers.

    Americans should demand their own scheme. In Britain, the effective rate of return is a paltry 1.5% (tax-free) and the odds of winning any prize each month is dismal at 1 in 24,000. But 24 million Brits hold them and they love them (soak up the passion in 'popular threads' here).

    President Obama should risk a bust-up with State governments when the prize is so big.

    We all get a lot out of lotteries!

      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
      Chief Bottle Washer
      New Jersey
      United States
      Member #1
      May 31, 2000
      23652 Posts
      Posted: October 15, 2015, 9:51 am - IP Logged

      This is a non-lottery topic.  Please post in your blog -- not on the forums.


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