By Elliot Schreur
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 postal banking, savings, and work
The U.S. Postal Service’s Inspector General issued a request for proposals this week to solicit strategies from stakeholders on expanding financial services at the post office. Mark Holan with the Washington Business Journal gave the broader context for this announcement in USPS’s recent developments in this area and suggested that the RFP represents “the next step” towards rolling out postal banking. Separately this week, the Washington Post editorial board opined on the political and policy steps that need to be taken in order to ensure “a solvent Postal Service.” While postal banking was not in their recommendations, Dean Baker with the Center for Economic and Policy Research explicitly suggested expanded financial services as one way to improve the Postal Service’s financial condition. Kevin Drum, however, remains skeptical. His main critique: “If the government wants to provide basic banking services for the poor, it's not clear to me why USPS should do it…If we really want some kind of government-sponsored basic banking service, we should simply create one and partner with commercial banks to offer it.”
“The share of the U.S. population 25 and older with a savings or checking account was 91 percent in 2011, lower than any other Group of Seven nation except Italy.” That’s according to Jeanna Smialek for Bloomberg News this week reporting on the latest available World Bank data. That should come as no surprise to those who have watched these trends closely: less than 70 percent of Americans have a savings account, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.