New data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that private savings rates reached levels not since September 2003. The new data, reported for November of last year, shows that personal savings rates hit 2.8 percent. As the following figure shows this rate is by no means large by historical standards.
I'm also not convinced that the increase will have any permanence. Personal savings rates spiked to 4.8 percent in April of 2008, after exactly a year of rates below 1 percent. That spike tracks well with the first fiscal stimulus package more than any change in attitudes about saving. Similarly, the recent data follows on the heels of the stock market collapse with rates declining until August and then beginning to grow again.
The increase in FDIC insurance, now set at $250,000 from $100,000 likely caused some people too swap risky assets into safer savings.
In fact other data from the BEA on total national savings indicates a large spike in the second quarter of 2008 that came down, while still above past levels in the third quarter. The table below shows personal saving rates sine 2007 (yell0w)
Of course all this personal savings is dwarfed by the upshoot in the federal government's dissavings (blue).