The Federal Reserve last week confirmed what most Americans already know.
In its latest report on the state of the US economy, the central bank said 46 percent of Americans would “struggle to meet emergency expenses of $400.”
“The new survey findings shed important light on the economic and financial security of American families seven years into the recovery,” said Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard.
And that light is a flashing red beacon of warning.
While I love the direct nature of this survey question, I wonder what it would have been like if the number were $500. Would that have put the percentage of Americans over 50 percent?
While this is — in today’s economy — a lot of money to practically half the country, it is not a vast sum.
In addition, 22 percent of those currently employed are working two or more jobs.
So almost a quarter of those who are lucky enough to be working have to work two jobs to make ends meet before a $400 fender-bender forces them to go begging to their neighbor or borrow from a family member.
Even this sad story of the “recovery” gets worse.
A full 43 percent of those with family incomes below $40,000 don’t even have a bank account. And 31 percent of workers don’t have a retirement savings account or pension.
So there is no hope that starving today will feed you tomorrow. In this recovery from the Great Recession, almost half of America is living hand to mouth.
There’s an old saying that “money talks and BS walks.”
I’d propose changing it to “money walks and hope floats.”
If this was the “hope is on the way” rhetoric that President Obama promised, then I suspect half the country would gladly exchange that hope for $400, in case things don’t exactly pan out.