Americans’ net worth fell at the highest level since the financial crisis in the fourth quarter of 2018 as sliding stock market prices ate into the household balance sheet.
Net worth dropped to $104.3 trillion as the year came to an end, a slide of $3.73 trillion, according to figures released Thursday by the Federal Reserve. The decline amounted to a drop of 3.4 percent.
Much of the slide came due to Wall Street’s woes, as the stock market suffered a precipitous decline that started in October and briefly reached bear market status. Equities skidded as investors began to fear that the Fed would keep raising interest rates even as economic conditions began to deteriorate.
By the time the market drop ended in late December, households saw $4.6 trillion worth of equity value deteriorate. The decline was offset somewhat by a $300 billion increase in real estate value. The overall move was the second-highest quarterly dollar drop since the Federal Reserve began tracking the statistic.
Overall, financial assets totaled just over $85 trillion at the end of the year, while real estate value was $29.2 trillion.
Household net worth has been rising strongly since the crisis and is up 73 percent since 2009.
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