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Over the course of two decades, personal savings rates in the United States dropped from 9 percent to roughly zero, spiking only over the last few months to about 5 percent. High levels of consumption were driven by easy credit and inflated home prices. The abrupt collapse of both the housing market and the stock market in 2008 significantly reduced the net worth of the highly leveraged U.S. consumer. Moreover, by any measure, the U.S. consumer is burdened by levels of debt not seen since the Great Depression. To put this in numbers, consumer debt has reached 95 percent of the $14.3 trillion U.S. GDP.
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