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I doubt that the situation has improved, since 1998, since the national savings rate was positive, in 1998, but went negative, in 2005, and has remained negative, throughout 2006.

There's been a huge run up in real estate values since 1998. If a home owner can resist the urge to cash out 100% then they've accumlated a fairly nice bit of equity. Very illiquid, but still some equity.

I'm also curious at the number of people retiring. We're starting to see the baby boomers retire and a side effect of this could be a negative savings rate. If so, look for the negative savings rate numbers to get larger as more boomers retire.

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