Financial Services

Asset Building News Week, May 26-30

May 30, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include the case for reparations, savings, and education.

Should We Save Like the Singaporeans Do?

May 29, 2014
Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on New America's Weekly Wonk as part of the series, Globalization’s Canary: Singapore at 50.  In the half-century since its independence, the strategically located city-state has leveraged its access to the global economy, and a number of innovative policies on issues ranging from housing to savings and social cohesion, to become one of the world’s most affluent societies.  As they prepare to celebrate their milestone, Singaporeans are in a reflective mood, taking stock of what’s been accomplished, while also expressing some unease about the sustainability of their current model going forward.  In that same spirit, New America Asset Building Program Director Reid Cramer explores whether Singapore’s innovative savings system could work in the United States.
 
In recent years, policymakers around the world have begun exploring the potential of asset-based welfare policy. There is a growing recognition that while income facilitates immediate consumption, people move up the economic ladder and become economically secure when they are able to build up a pool of assets that they can deploy productively. The experience of Singapore and their Central Provident Fund (CPF) provides an instructive case study for the potential of this approach. Although it was initially designed as a mandatory savings scheme to facilitate retirement security while minimizing welfare payments, it has evolved into a comprehensive social security savings plan with various pre-retirement uses such as financing healthcare, child development, post-secondary education, home ownership, and asset building.

As an account-based social policy system, the CPF offers instructive lessons for any country, particularly when we begin to break down why it has worked so well. One feature that makes it particularly effective is that everybody is automatically enrolled – so taking initiative or having special knowledge of investments and savings isn’t required. Contributions to the fund are not optional, but the resources that accrue can eventually be accessed by the account holder. And there are incentives to increase participation among those with lower incomes, introducing a degree of progressivity to the program.

Asset Building News Week, May 19-23

May 23, 2014
The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include racial inequality, housing, public assistance, and financial inclusion.

Solving the Retirement Puzzle with myRAs

May 12, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building Program released a paper today examining the potential of the Obama Administration’s myRA proposal to provide a meaningful savings opportunity for low- and middle-income Americans. The paper, “Solving the Retirement Puzzle: The Potential of myRAs to Build a Personal Safety Net,” examines the myRA program within the context of other recent policy proposals to address the looming retirement crisis. While many of the recent proposals have promise, they almost uniformly lack one key element to achieving widespread retirement security among low- and middle-income workers: supporting access to flexible resources that can be tapped in an emergency. This is where the myRA proposal stands out: it permits flexible withdrawals.

Solving the Retirement Puzzle

  • By
  • Reid Cramer,
  • Justin King,
  • Elliot Schreur,
  • Aleta Sprague,
  • New America Foundation
May 12, 2014
The growing recognition that millions of Americans are ill-prepared for retirement has prompted a number of state and federal policy proposals to promote retirement security. Yet even the most promising proposals fail to acknowledge a prerequisite to sustaining long-term savings: access to flexible resources that can be tapped in an emergency or can support productive investments that can pay off over the long haul.

Asset Building News Week, April 28-May 2

May 2, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include the racial wealth gap, the American Dream, and public assistance.

Asset Building News Week, April 21-25

April 25, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include student loan debt, housing, and upcoming events.

Recommended Standards for TANF Payment Card Contracts

  • and Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Center for Law and Social Policy; Andrea Luquetta, California Reinvestment Coalition
April 21, 2014
Families participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF/cash assistance) often must pay significant fees and surcharges to withdraw their benefits at an ATM. In California, fees charged to recipients of TANF and other public assistance programs added up to $19 million in 2012, according to a new report from the California Reinvestment Coalition. Since families’ average monthly grants are only a few hundred dollars, these small fees can have a significant impact on their ability to make ends meet.

Asset Building News Week, April 14-18

April 18, 2014
Publication Image The Asset Building News Week is a weekly Friday feature on The Ladder, the Asset Building Program blog, designed to help readers keep up with news and developments in the asset building field. This week's topics include tax day, inequality, and the safety net.

Locked Up and Locked Out: Applying an Assets Lens to Reentry

April 7, 2014
Publication Image This Friday, the Asset Building Program will be hosting an event about the impacts of incarceration on financial security and inclusion, highlighting a new piece by our fellow Monica Potts about a reentry program at the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. As Monica’s article details, for ex-offenders, the institutional barriers to basic financial stability—let alone savings—are vast. For a group facing so many obstacles, is asset building even relevant?
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