Bankers may need little convincing to see that we’re dealing with highly unusual market conditions, but the data certainly helps put the situation into perspective.
In 2020, the number of new checking households dropped by half compared to a typical year of account openings, however the average checking account balance grew by an astonishing $1,833. Indeed, many experienced a meaningful increase in liquidity, though not all higher checking balances reflect greater wealth. There have been unusually high shifts of expiring CD balances to more liquid savings vehicles, as well as an influx of government economic relief funds. On the other hand, fewer are opening new accounts. This could have dire consequences for individual institutions if it becomes a long-term trend since household growth is the lifeblood of community financial institutions (FIs).