I was intrigued by this article from this past Saturday's New York Times:
Smarting From Crisis in the Past, Germans Approach Bailouts with Reluctance
Germans tend to be the strait-laced, play-it-safe types in financial matters. That has left them particularly frustrated at footing the bill for bank bailouts and fretting over their accounts because of a global financial crisis that seems to emanate from the spendthrift ways of others and the unfathomable risks taken by Wall Street bankers....
Unlike in fellow European Union countries like Spain, Ireland and Britain, there was no real-estate bubble here. Germans abhor credit. And few own stocks, just 5.4 percent according to a study by the Deutsches Aktieninstitut, a nonprofit group that promotes equity ownership. Instead, most Germans sock away 11 percent of their incomes on average into savings accounts, often with Sparkassen, municipally owned savings banks that are popular and stable.
In these days when culture seems more and more globalized and homogeneous, it's just fascinating to me that two developed Western nations could be so different in terms of how their citizens behave financially. Of course each country has a spectrum of people who are savers and spenders, but the difference in averages is astounding-- Germans save 11% of their income, and Americans save ZERO percent. How did this happen?