For almost a century, a set of economic statistics have dominated policy goals in America. Gross domestic product, employment, inflation, and other well-known statistics are certainly important measurements. How they are measured, however, is still based on conventions developed for a society and an economy that have radically changed. Evidence is mounting that the financial health of American families is increasingly divergent from the data gathered by existing metrics. Is it time to change what and how we count, in order to solve problems like poverty, vulnerability, and inequality?
On Tuesday, May 18, the Center on Regulation and Markets at Brookings addressed these questions with the release of a new report, “Measuring the Financial Health of Americans,” authored by the Financial Health Network’s Jennifer Tescher and David Silberman. This paper challenges America’s data gathered to capture metrics that judge American’s actual financial well-being. The authors propose new mechanisms to gather the proper information that ultimately should guide new policies designed to improve financial health metrics and outcomes. Gene Ludwig, former comptroller of the currency, offered keynote remarks, setting the stage for the report. A diverse panel of experts then responded to the report in a conversation moderated by Binyamin Appelbaum, lead economics and business writer for The New York Times editorial board.
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