Lowell Deeds

The latest on real estate recordings and new technology from the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds in Lowell

August 1, 2006

“Missing Men”

by @ 6:15 am. Filed under Statistics, Current Events

While we’ve frequently written about the rapidly rising rate of foreclosure over the past few months, we’ve only mentioned two of the root causes of this problem: declining real estate values and rising interest rates. Left largely unsaid on this blog is the national cultural shift over the past few decades, transforming the United States from a nation of savers to a nation that runs on consumer credit. The U.S. personal savings rate, as high as 10.8% in 1984, has been a negative number since the second quarter of 2005. Since many people are, in fact, saving money, this means that many others are reducing their savings by spending. Two recent newspaper articles do an excellent job of putting a human face on statistics such as these. Yesterday’s New York Times ran a lengthy, front page article, “Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job,” discusses the approximately 4 million middle age American men who have essentially dropped out of the workforce. Most held relatively high paying jobs with good benefits but were left unemployed when their jobs were eliminated by such things as the decline of manufacturing or the dot-com bubble burst. Unable to find new jobs with comparable pay and benefits, these men refuse to take lesser paying jobs and just stay home, content to live off of among other things, the accumulated equity in their homes. The second newspaper article is actually a series written by the Boston Globe Spotlight Team that started to run on Sunday and will conclude tomorrow that examines the practice of debt collection in Massachusetts. While this very powerful series focuses on questionable efforts to collect consumer debt, the unstated reality is that there are many people who are spending more money than they take in with dire consequences.

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