Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fed: Household Net Worth Cliff Dives in Q4

by Bill McBride on 3/12/2009 12:13:00 PM

The Fed released the Q4 2008 Flow of Funds report today: Flow of Funds.

Household Net Worth as Percent of GDP Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This is the Households and Nonprofit Net Worth as a percent of GDP.

This includes real estate and financial assets (stocks, bonds, pension reserves, deposits, etc) net of liabilities (mostly mortgages).

This ratio was relatively stable for almost 50 years, and then ... bubbles!

Rex Nutting at MarketWatch has more: Household net worth plunges 18% in 2008

Hit by the double whammy of declining home prices and a falling stock market, U.S. households saw their net worth fall by $11.2 trillion, or 18%, to $51.5 trillion at the end of 2008, wiping out five years of gains ...
Household percent equity was at an all time low of 43.0%.

Household Percent EquityThis graph shows homeowner percent equity since 1952.

When prices were increasing dramatically, the percent homeowner equity was declining because homeowners were extracting equity from their homes. Now, with prices falling, the percent homeowner equity is Cliff Diving!

Note: approximately 31% of households do not have a mortgage. So the 50+ million households with mortgages have far less than 43.0% equity.

Household Real Estate Assets Percent GDP
The third graph shows household real estate assets and mortgage debt as a percent of GDP. Household assets as a percent of GDP is now declining rapidly. Mortgage debt as a percent of GDP was up slightly in Q4, and is only declining slowly.

It's an old lesson: Assets values can fall quickly, but debt lingers!

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