Fed to update its consumer finance survey

Now they say that people lost their homes do to job loss instead of saying they bought some thing they could not afford.
APMon Jul 27: By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve is reaching out to Americans to get a more detailed picture of how the country’s economic debacles have affected household finances.

The Fed, which made the announcement on Monday, is taking this step to update data that it had collected when the recession was just hitting, in late 2007.

“It may seem that everything that needs … to be known about recent economic changes is already known,” said Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. “Certainly, we do have excellent data on the overall state of the economy. But we would benefit from a more detailed understanding of what has happened across the broad range of types of households,” he added. “For that, we need to look directly at changes for individual households.”

To that end, the National Opinion Research Center, a social science research organization at the University of Chicago, will attempt to go back and secure interviews with all 4,422 participants in the 2007 survey.

The Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances are usually done every three years. Results from the updated research — which will be collected July 25 through Dec. 31 — are expected to be available late next year, the Fed said.

Bernanke, in a letter urging households to participate in the updated research project, explained that since the last Fed survey “we have seen substantial problems in the economy that have affected virtually everyone. You can help us understand those effects more clearly by participating in a much shorter second round of the survey.”

In the first three months of this year, the recession had wiped out a staggering $1.3 trillion of Americans’ wealth as home values shrank and investments withered, the Fed said earlier this year in a separate quarterly report.

So far, the recession has snatched a net total of 6.5 million jobs, making it harder for people to keep up with payments on mortgages and other kinds of debt.

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