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More low-income families now need assistance on how to find financial vehicles that will allow them to more effectively manage debt, savings and their financial lives. A recently released book edited by Rebecca M. Blank and Michael S. Barr, Insufficient Funds: Savings, Assets, Credit, and Banking among Low-Income Households (Russell Sage Press, 2009) discusses the problems and suggests how to bring more low-income families into the formal financial sector by offering them better financial service products. The book also recommends improved opportunities for saving, and regulation of credit and financial markets in ways that help lower-income families avoid credit and investment options that create long-term financial problems. Insufficient Funds is the fourth volume in the National Poverty Center Series on Poverty and Public Policy, published by the Russell Sage Foundation, featuring NPC research.
On May 4, 2009 the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion on how the book's recommendations might be realized in this current economic environment. Several authors summarized findings and analyses on the wealth, assets, and financial lives of low-income families. This was followed by a policy response and questions from the audience. This event was jointly sponsored by the National Poverty Center, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, the Center on Children and Families, Brookings Institution, the Retirement Security Project, Brookings Institution, and the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. Funds were provided by a grant from the Ford Foundation to the National Poverty Center.
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Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
Rebecca M. Blank
How Individuals Engage with Formal and Informal Financial Institutions
Jane Dokko, Federal Reserve Board
Financial Innovations to Support Savers
Peter Tufano, Harvard Business School
Policy and Research Comments
William G. Gale, The Brookings Institution
Moderated by Belle Sawhill, The Brookings Institution