August 8, 2014

WE’RE LIVING IN BOOM TIMES! You’re better off than the average American if you can come up with this much cash.

Only 48 percent said that they could easily handle an emergency expense of $400 without running a balance on their credit card. Almost a fifth said they simply could not come up with the funds, and a similar share said they would have to take on credit card debt. Others said they would either have to sell something (9 percent), ask a family member or friend for help (12 percent), or turn to a payday lender (4 percent) to come up with the money.

The survey also captured some of the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. Thirty-five percent of Americans still felt they were doing worse in late 2013, when the survey was conducted, than they were in 2008. One in five Americans postponed a major life decision because of the crisis. The biggest delayed decision was buying a house, which it appears almost one in 10 people did. Smaller percentages also delayed moving, getting married and having kids.

The Fed report also uncovered significant differences in perceptions about finances and credit by race and ethnicity. While nearly 60 percent of whites are confident they could qualify for a home loan today, only about 40 percent of blacks and Hispanics felt the same way. The disparities were even worse for other kinds of loans.

Fundamentally transformed.