In the United States are provided many instrumentalities for saving, which, while they are not fundamentally savings bank institutions, are nevertheless powerful means to thrift. Of these, war savings certificates and thrift stamps, life insurance and fraternal organizations are examples.
As compared with certain European countries, however, the sum total of savings in the United States - in commercial banks, savings banks, and trust companies, postal savings banks, and savings effected by the means just mentioned - is relatively small in the light of population and wealth. This showing is too commonly taken to prove that we are not a thrifty people. The fact is that no small part of our saving is done by corporations. The net profits of corporations, after payment of taxes, are divided between dividends and corporate surplus; they are invested in materials, supplies, plant, securities, and accounts receivable, or are held as cash on hand or on deposit with banks. A large part of the investment in banks, industrials, railroads, public utilities, and mines has been made out of the profits retained in the business and not declared as dividends. In France the corporate profits tend rather to flow to the investment market where they are more in evidence as the product of thrifty people. In the United States the thrift is exercised by corporate directors, and the people are relieved of the inconvenience of abstinence from consumption, for they are largely unconscious that saving is being accomplished.