What others are saying

February 05, 2007

Expectations in Miami and Washington had been that once Fidel Castro disappeared from the scene, the Revolution would crumble. But that, of course, has not been the case. Six months after Fidel passed the baton to Raul, there has been no sign whatever of unrest. The Cuban people have accepted the transition with calm maturity - indicating a higher level of support for the Revolution than the exiles in Miami or the Bush administration had thought possible. Indeed, a recent Gallup poll conducted in Cuba indicated that 49 percent of the Cuban people supported Fidel Castro. Cuban officials strongly contest that finding, insisting that the percentage of supporters is much, much higher. But even as it stands, the poll indicates that a higher percentage of Cubans support Fidel than the percentage of Americans who support President Bush!

- Wayne S. Smith, TomPaine.com

Each time [the savings rate is] announced, a round of tut-tutting is heard from pundits, economics wonks and policy-makers about how Americans are "spendthrifts" and "just don't save enough."

To which we answer: Nonsense. Indeed, the savings rate is one of the least useful pieces of data issued on our economy. ...

In the fourth quarter, we had amassed $1.8 trillion in gross savings - more than enough to fund the estimated $1.43 trillion in private nonresidential investment we made.

How could savings be so high when we're constantly told it's at Depression-era lows? Easy. The scare stories focus solely on personal savings, failing to take into account the savings of households, businesses and government. When those are added in, we have an enormous amount of money at our disposal.

But if savings doesn't matter, what does? In a word, wealth.

Net wealth - the total value of all assets, including stocks, bonds, bank accounts, houses and retirement funds, after subtracting debt - is about $54 trillion, up a hefty $16 trillion since President Bush cut taxes in mid-2003. If you divide that $54 trillion by America's 114 million or so households, you get an average net worth of roughly $474,000. ...

So stop worrying about the plunging personal savings rate. The game's not about accumulating savings; it's about building wealth - something we Americans are very, very good at.

- Investor's Business Daily

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