Too Many Households Are Short on Emergency Savings
By Ann Carrns
Six weeks of take-home pay.
That’s how much cash families should aim to set aside to ride out gyrations in their income and expenses, a new analysis from JPMorgan Chase’s research arm finds.
The recommendation, based on an analysis of millions of Chase checking accounts, is considerably less than the traditional rule of thumb of three to six months of take-home pay.
But even so, most households fall short, the report found: About two-thirds lack the recommended buffer.
To cushion against a simultaneous spike in expenses and dip in income, a middle-income family needs about $5,000 in a rainy-day fund but has just $2,000 – a gap of $3,000. Lower-income families need about $2,500 but have just $700.
The findings were part of a report on income volatility that the JPMorgan Chase Institute published late last month. The report examined inflows and outflows from 6 million active checking accounts over a period of about six years that ended in December.
Americans’ lack of emergency savings has been a concern for years. The Pew Charitable Trusts found in 2015 that many families lacked funds to cover a $2,000 expense. And the Federal Reserve has repeatedly found that a significant share of households would struggle to cope with an unexpected $400 expense.
But in the current long period of economic growth and low unemployment, it is especially frustrating that many families continue to lack a cash buffer, according to a report last month from the AARP Public Policy Institute. The AARP found that more than half of American households (53%) lacked an emergency savings account, including a majority of people over age 50.
While it’s easier for more affluent people to save, some low-income families do manage to set aside money while higher-income families do not, the AARP found. For instance, a quarter of Americans earning more than $150,000 a year have no emergency savings account, the report found.
Regardless of their income, families with no emergency savings are more likely to suffer financial hardship, said Catherine S. Harvey, the author of the AARP report.
Harvey cautioned that just because people didn’t have a specific emergency savings account didn’t mean they lacked a plan to deal with unexpected expenses – even if it was borrowing from relatives and friends. But it’s clear, she said, that more must be done to promote emergency savings to make families more financially resilient.
Emergency savings are “necessary to meet the obvious issues that arise on a consistent basis for all of us, whether it’s costs for our home, car or health,” said George Barany, director of America Saves, a campaign that is managed by the Consumer Federation of America.
本文介紹美國民眾普遍缺乏應急存款的現象，第三段提到依據經驗法則應存下的大約金額。rule of thumb 指累積經驗而得來，且可廣泛應用的不成文原則，但並非百分之百正確與適用。例如As a rule of thumb, your mortgage does not exceed one third of your monthly income.
Big Meat Hops on the Meatless Bandwagon
By David Yaffe-Bellany
Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, scrappy startups that share a penchant for superlatives and a commitment to protecting the environment, have dominated the relatively new market for vegetarian food that looks and tastes like meat.
But with plant-based burgers, sausages and chicken increasingly popular and available in fast-food restaurants and grocery stores across the United States, a new group of companies has started making meatless meat: the food conglomerates and meat producers that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods originally set out to disrupt.
In recent months, major food companies like Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, Hormel and Nestlé have rolled out their own meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves with plant-based burgers, meatballs and chicken nuggets.
Once largely the domain of vegans and vegetarians, plant-based meat is fast becoming a staple of more people’s diets, as consumers look to reduce their meat intake amid concerns about its health effects and contribution to climate change. Analysts project that the market for plant-based protein and lab-created meat alternatives could be worth as much as $85 billion by 2030.
Now, at supermarkets across the United States, shoppers can find plant-based beef and chicken sold alongside the packaged meat products that generations of Americans have eaten.
“There is a growing demand out there,” said John Pauley, the chief commercial officer for Smithfield, one of the largest pork producers in the country. “We’d be foolish not to pay attention.”
In September, Nestlé released the Awesome Burger, its answer to the meatless patties of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Smithfield started a line of soy-based burgers, meatballs and sausages, and Hormel began offering plant-based ground meat.
Many supporters of meatless alternatives have hailed the new products as a sign that plant-based meat has gained widespread acceptance.
But the emergence of these meat companies in the plant-based protein market has also prompted suspicion and unease among some environmental activists, who worry the companies could co-opt the movement by absorbing smaller startups, or simply use plant-based burgers to draw attention away from other environmental misdeeds.
Pat Brown, the chief executive of Impossible Foods, has long described the project of creating faux meat as an environmental imperative. Brown has even set a deadline: eliminate animal products from the global food supply by 2035.
Not all his new rivals are quite so idealistic. Their goal is not to upend the meat industry in the name of sustainability. It is mainly to make money.