As fears of a global slowdown spread in August, good news suddenly became hard to find. Germany looked as if it were entering a recession, England saw its GDP turn negative, and manufacturing here in America turned wobbly.

For what it’s worth, the guess here is that the U.S. will sidestep a recession, although many other countries won’t be so lucky. Here at home, many Americans appear better positioned to endure a slowdown than they were a decade ago.

Since the financial crisis, the U.S. savings rate has doubled to 8%, according to PGIM Fixed Income’s chief economist Nathan Sheets. That is modest compared with the average savings rates of 25% in Germany and 29% in Japan over the last three decades, but it is high for America.

No other nation has our “shop until you drop” consumer culture, but the statistics appear to indicate many Americans got the memo about overspending during the financial crisis. Still, when one talks with financial advisors about individual clients, a more disparate picture emerges.

First, the type of person who seeks a financial advisor differs from the average American in that they’ve managed to either save or accumulate a certain amount of wealth. Generalizations aren’t easy, but my anecdotal conversations with advisors have led me to believe that about 10% to 15% of clients still have spending problems while another 10% are Scrooges who can’t enjoy their money. The remaining 70% can find an appropriate semblance of savings-spending balance.

Second, it’s unlikely that this increase in the savings rate over the last decade has been widely shared. Sheets notes that one driver of wealth inequality has been the strong performance of U.S. equities, which have outpaced those in more developed economies. Ironically, the last year that witnessed a dramatic decline in wealth inequality was 2008, when stocks fell by more than 50%.

Equities have created extraordinary wealth for the top 1%, and the next 9% have also done very well. Many of the next 40% once had pensions and now have defined contribution plans, but they haven’t kept up, Sheets continues.

If there is a silver lining, it’s that millennials who came of age during the financial crisis are bigger savers than baby boomers were. For ways to capitalize on these emerging clients, I’d urge you to read Chris Robbins’s cover story on the subscription fee model on page 38.       

Email me at [email protected] with your opinion.