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    商業 - 金融

    不會理財讓美國人付出高昂代價

    Chris Matthews 2014年09月18日

    一項調查顯示,只有一小部分美國人知道復利是怎么回事??磥?,美國人的確是理財方面的“笨蛋”。據稱,美國人每年都會因為財務失策而損失數十億美元,而這些錯誤是完全可以避免的。

    ????我們都聽說過“每分鐘都有笨蛋呱呱落地”這句話。

    ????那么,如果我說這句話顯然低估了實際情況,大家會怎么想呢?美國衛生和公眾服務部(Department of Human Health and Services)的數據顯示,每分鐘有7.6個美國人出生,而確鑿證據表明其中有5個會成為理財方面的“笨蛋”。

    ????密歇根大學(University of Michigan)健康和退休研究項目發現,在50歲及以上的美國人中,只有約三分之一的人能正確回答三個簡單的問題:復利是怎么回事?通脹對個人儲蓄和投資收益意味著什么?一只股票和一只共同基金有哪些基本差異?

    ????一系列經濟領域研究已經表明,美國人的理財知識欠缺程度令人震驚。其中最新一項研究來自經濟學家本杰明?基斯、德溫?波普和賈倫?波普,他們的課題是美國人在金融危機達到高峰時的再融資習慣。當時,美國財政部和美聯儲正在竭盡全力幫助按揭者進行再融資并利用低利率環境。這篇研究報告稱:

    ????“對有些家庭來說,再融資是最佳方案,而且這方面也不存在障礙。但據我們估算,在這些家庭中,約有20%并未對低利率加以利用。據我們計算,對未能再融資的家庭來說,其當前貼現損失約為1.15萬美元,這在消費金融領域算是個特別大的失算?!?/p>

    ????由于沒有進行再融資,這些消費者的整體損失為54億美元,想必整個美國經濟也蒙受了同等金額的損失。而且這個數字實際上偏向保守。

    ????2008年,達特茅斯學院(Dartmouth College)金融學教授肯尼思?弗蘭奇在他的研究中估算,為了“跑贏大市”,美國投資者每年都要支付約1000億美元的手續費和其他費用,卻不愿用這筆錢投資手續費較低,專門跟蹤大盤的指數基金。2006年,哈佛大學(Harvard University)經濟學家約翰?坎貝爾估算,由于在按揭融資方面決策欠妥,住房業主每年都要損失500億美元以上。類似的研究層出不窮,從發薪日貸款到信用卡再到退休金融產品,它們的結論都是:財務知識匱乏讓美國人多花了數十億美元。

    ????曾在奧巴馬政府中任職的凱斯?桑斯坦認為,政府政策應提醒人們避免這種可預知的高成本錯誤。在桑斯坦看來,美國應該制定法規,迫使銀行在利率下降時讓貸款再融資變得簡單易行。雖然銀行和按揭投資者不會非常喜歡這種做法,但有足夠的研究證明,如果我們建立的機制能讓人們更容易地在財務方面做出正確選擇,就會有更多的人進行這樣的選擇。

    ????對美國的退休制度來說,這也是解決問題的好辦法。普通美國民眾每年在退休方面要浪費數十億美元資金,卻不能讓自己未來的生活更有保障。私營公司基本上都已經放棄了養老金固定收益計劃,但這并不是說這些公司不再承擔責任了,企業還是應該設法讓員工的退休生活變得盡可能舒適。這就意味著要建立自動注冊和自動提高繳納金額的機制,而且最重要的是,不要涉及高手續費基金投資。這也意味著企業需要確保員工可以憑借自己掌握的知識做出正確的選擇。

    ????總之,還要更重視公共教育體系中的金融課程,以便讓絕大多數消費者最起碼能夠理解復利這樣的概念。也許,美國每分鐘確實有5個笨蛋出生,但絕對沒有理由讓他們在接下來的人生中一直當笨蛋。(財富中文網)

    ????譯者:Charlie

    ????We’ve all heard the saying, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

    ????Well, what if I were to tell you that this is a gross underestimate? According to the Department of Human Health and Services, there are about 7.6 Americans born every minute, and there’s good evidence that about five of them will grow up to be “suckers” when it comes to financial literacy.

    ????The University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study found that only about one third of Americans ages 50 and older were able to correctly answer three simple questions about how compound interest works, what inflation means for one’s savings and investment gains, and the basic differences between a single stock and a mutual fund.

    ????In the latest addition to a body of economic research that shows Americans’ striking financial illiteracy, a study by economists Benjamin Keys, Devin Pope, and Jaren Pope examined Americans’ refinancing habits during the worst of the financial crisis, when the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve were doing their utmost to get people to refinance their mortgages and take advantage of low interest rates. According to the paper:

    ????“We estimate that approximately 20% of households for whom refinancing would be optimal and who appeared unconstrained to do so, had not taken advantage of the lower rates. We estimate the present-discounted cost to the household who fails to refinance to be approximately $11,500, making this a particularly large consumer financial mistake.”

    ????Altogether, this failure to refinance cost these consumers, and presumably the economy at large, $5.4 billion. And this estimate is actually on the conservative side of the spectrum.

    ????A 2008 study by Dartmouth finance professor Kenneth French estimated that investors in the U.S. pay roughly $100 billion per year in fees and other expenses in an attempt to “beat the market” rather than investing in low-fee index funds that track the broader performance of the stock market. And a 2006 study from Harvard economist John Campbell estimated that poor decisions concerning mortgage financing costs homeowners more than $50 billion annually. The list goes on, from payday loans to credit cards to retirement products: Americans spend billions more because of their lack of financial knowledge.

    ????Cass Sunstein, former Obama Administration official and promoter of government policies that “nudge” people into avoiding making such predictable and costly mistakes, suggests that we should institute rules that force banks to make it very easy to refinance loans when interest rates fall. While this approach won’t be very popular with banks or mortgage investors, there’s plenty of research that shows that creating systems where it’s easier to make the right choice about your finances will lead to more people making those choices.

    ????This is also good way to approach the problem of the American retirement system, in which average citizens waste billions of dollars every year without making their futures more secure. Private companies have basically abandoned defined-benefit retirement programs, but that doesn’t mean they should abandon the idea that they are partly responsible for making their employees’ retirements as comfortable as possible. That means setting up automatic enrollment, automatic escalation of their contributions, and, most importantly, not giving the option to invest in high-fee funds. It also means that employers need to make sure that their employees have the knowledge to make the right choices.

    ????At the end of the day, there also must be a greater emphasis placed on financial education in public school systems so that, at the very least, the vast majority of consumers can understand a concept like compound interest. There may very well be five suckers born every minute in this country, but there’s no reason they have to remain suckers for the rest of their lives.

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