Wow! The weather here in Oklahoma has been crazy the last 2 weeks. We have experienced 75 and sunny, record snow fall, record lows (Can you believe it was colder here than the South Pole?), and back to 70 and sunny. During the days stuck in my apartment during Snowpocalypse 2011, I had time to make a small dent in my stack of articles and reports. This post will be a quick rundown of two. I will probably do longer posts later, when I have more time to invest in proper blog posts.
First, there was “A System Dynamics Approach to Understating the Use of Banks and Alternative Financial Services in St. Louis” which is based on a project by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Social System Design Lab (SSDL) at Washington University in St. Louis. The purpose of the project and report is to look at the “complex social systems that influence households’ decisions to use banks and other financial institutions.” As part of the explanation, SSDL provides a series of graphics to explain the interplay between different factors. I am not sure I fully understood the graphics, but they did a great job of explaining the findings in words for those of us graphically challenged. In the Discussion section they provide a great breakdown of the voluntarily banked, involuntarily banked, voluntarily unbanked, and involuntarily unbanked populations.
I continued with the theme of economic and financial matters with, “Building Economic Security in America’s Cities: New Municipal Strategies for Asset Building and Financial Empowerment” from the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED). The report documents the efforts of several cities to financially empower, educate, and protect residents. These efforts include: improving access to high quality financial information, education, and counseling; increasing access to income-boosting supports and tax credits; connecting residents to safe affordable financial products and services that reduce costs and facilitate savings; create opportunities to leverage savings into appreciable assets; and, protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. The report also includes recommendations on how to achieve these goals. The recommendations include: integrating financial empowerment and asset building into city services; aligning local, state, and federal policies; investing in evaluation; and, planning for political transition.