Re: Financial self-protection
In the Netherlands, savings of up to 130,000 dollars in Duch savings accounts are guaranteed by the state. The major Dutch banks are too big to fail too. So savings are pretty safe.
Dutch pension funds are separate entities, but they are large entitites and their coverage is closely monitored. Pensions seem pretty safe as well. The pension payments might be lowered a few percent in some (worst) cases, but that's about it.
I think the Dutch are more worried about the possibility of losing ones job than the possibility of losing ones savings or ones pension. Losing your job can have major consequences. If you can't pay the mortgage you may be forced to sell your house. With current declining house prices, the price you get may well be lower that loaned amount. But you still have to pay back the loaned amount under Dutch law (I understand that in the US you won't be left with a debt to the bank, the bank just becomes the owner of the house).
So, declining house prices and growing unemployment is a reason for concern here, especially because Dutch houses are expensive when compared to Dutch income (in the Netherlands, the average price of a house is 440,000 dollars while the average net annual household income is about 44,000 dollars).