Falling Personal Savings: All Bill Clinton's Fault?

Matt Yglesias points to the fact that personal savings as a percentage of disposable income peaked in the early eighties, and attributes the change to "the Age of Reagan".  You might as well attribute it to the "Age of Clinton", since that's where the majority of the decline occurred, from 8% to about 2%.  In fact, the postwar average was 8-10%; Matt's chart cuts out the lower-saving late 1940s and early 1950s.  Reagan/Bush saw a modest decline to the bottom of the average range.  Clinton saw a free-fall.

But we don't actually need to attribute talismanic powers to the Oval Office.  We have a more parsimonious explanation:  the Great Depression generation had (for Americans) unusually high savings rates.  US savings peak in the 1970s and early 1980s, when the last of the generation that came of age in the Great Depression hit their peak savings years.  Then, as the last of the people who lived through the Great Depression retire, people who have never gone through a financial crisis start saving less and less.  What happened at the tail is more pathological, but also hard to attribute to the president.  I don't think Clinton made Americans take equity out of their homes or run up credit card debt to buy things.