“U.S. household net worth climbed to a record $92.8 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2016, as the end-of-year surge in stocks and a steady climb in home prices added more than $2 trillion of wealth to household balance sheets. The biggest contributor to the increase was the stock market, which added $728 billion to household balance sheets in the fourth quarter, according to the Federal Reserve’s quarterly financial accounts report,” reports the WSJ. Haven’t we seen this movie before? Josh Zumbrun writes:
The report provides no information on the distribution of wealth among households. Much stock ownership is highly concentrated in wealthy households, and the most valuable real estate in the U.S. is largely concentrated in coastal states. But the national rise in home prices benefits the majority of Americans who own homes, and rising equities benefit many middle-class households with savings in 401(k) and IRA accounts.
The ratio of household net worth to disposable personal income also reached a new peak. Household net worth is now 6.5 times higher than personal income, a milestone that has now surpassed the previous peak set during the headiest days of the housing bubble. That ratio shows the surge in wealth over the past five years has rapidly outstripped the much more modest gains in most households’ income.”
Read more here.