Net worth of U.S. households record $86.8 trillionStaff writer ▼ | March 10, 2016
The net worth of U.S. households ended 2015 at the highest level on record, reaching $86.8 trillion.
Wealth Household net worth rebounded by $1.64 trillion
The net worth rise, as reported in the Federal Reserve’s quarterly “financial accounts of the United States,” was driven by a $758 billion gain in corporate equities and a $458 billion increase in the value of real estate.
It represents a rise of 1.9%, and comes after a $1.32 trillion decline in the third quarter.
It should be pointed out that real estate, and stocks in particular, are disproportionately held by the rich. That said, real-estate gains are the main way the middle class adds wealth.
Household debt rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.4% in the fourth quarter, again driven by student and auto loans. Outstanding mortgage debt grew by 1.5% but consumer credit — which includes car loans, student loans and credit cards — rose 5.9%.
Businesses are loading up on debt more aggressively, with their nonfinancial debt expanding by 5%. Their cash stockpile rose slightly to $1.95 trillion from $1.9 trillion.
A gauge of their sensitivity to changes in interest rates, the ratio of short-term debt to total debt, fell slightly to 27.5% from 27.84%. ■