The Dramatic Drop in Family Wealth

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Felix Salmon, finance blogger for Reuters, talks about the Fed report released yesterday which found that family net worth in 2010 was the same as it was in the early '90s.


Felix Salmon

Comments [16]

mike from long island

people talk about getting housing prices back to pre -crash levels. it was those sky high pre-crash levels that contributed to the economy collapsing. i am in wonder of the people with houses under water. when they buy a new car, they are paying interest while simultaneously the car is steadily losing value, to a point where it will have no value. losing at both ends. that, they have no problem with. yet, the moment the house is underwater, the shrieks and howls are deafening. the house will not lose money on a steadily down trajectory , eventually will regain , and its your home,your shelter. sure timing is everything, and some got caught in a terribly inflated market. blame in on the money hungry real estate brokers, bankers, and greedy owners.

Jun. 12 2012 01:01 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Hmmmm...Am I justified in 'blaming Bush' for this one? Or should I just feel lucky that the decline in my home's bubble-induced 'value' (down approx $140K since 2007) doesn't affect me because I didn't take out any of that money.

The economy is still producing $15T in goods and services each year, but very, very little is going towards re-inflating housing prices.

If only politicians could rightfully take the blame for this but the actual culprit is our own greed.

Jun. 12 2012 11:24 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@Jack - break away from your group think. I never said a high school diploma is good enough, just that post secondary (vocational) education should be a viable option.

Getting a **college** degree in something you hate doing, if you are lucky to find a job in that field, whilst racking up "undischargable" debt that will eat away in your disposable income well into your 50's, is not a good thing.

Jun. 12 2012 11:06 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey


You couldn't be more wrong.

A college education DOUBLES your income. The problem is that the distribution among graduates is just as FUBAR as it is among non-college graduates.

The problem of the cost of education is declining public investment AND colleges tuition tracking more closely to the growth in the economy while wages have only grown at about a third of that rate.

Jun. 12 2012 10:52 AM
lanvy-nyc from bronxville

Brian, what you quotes is NOT actually a savings rate. What you stated was the % of American who save, and of those who save, the average saving rate is somewhere at 5%. Then again, I really doubt that 52% of of the American population save.

Jun. 12 2012 10:49 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Oh, let me add in the cost of entertainment -- you practically need to take out a home equity loan to attend a major sporting event, Broadway ticket prices are outrageous, (3D) movie tix -- Uggh!

And look how often folks eat out (never mind the poor nutritional costs of doing so) or order in. We are the flipflop/pizza nation!

Jun. 12 2012 10:43 AM
lanvy-nyc from bronxville

doctors...what's that?? I have my webMD

Jun. 12 2012 10:41 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"before WWII most workers rented small apts?"

jg - that in not correct, especially west of the Hudson.

Jun. 12 2012 10:40 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I think the US is on a long not-so-slow economic slog downward. I mean this from the perspective of the non-1%, or even non-5% or even non-10% populace.

There are tons of examples of this, throughout the economy and the signs have been there for decades. (We've had this conversation for years.)

But there's a crucial cultural component that's accompanied this decline (although I'm not saying it's a cause, but only an exacerbating factor.) And that is that we have spent, spent, borrowed, spent, consumed, borrowed, and spent. It was bad enough when we wanted to keep up with the Jones' who lived next door. For the past 20 years or longer, we've wanted to keep up with the rich & famous, well beyond our means or reason.

Expensive vacations & travel, fancy cars (always new), iPods, iPads, bigger and fancier TVs, bigger houses (with more space to heat and cool) and the like. We don't save.

Also, the financial toll of divorce is VERY heavy, and it affects millions (because there is the need of supporting 2 households instead of one.)

In our defense, medical costs & college tuition can wreck even a responsible family's finances.

Jun. 12 2012 10:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The "no high school diploma group" are ahead of the curve :) If you want to work with your hands, don't waste time with academic rigamarole. Learn only what you need to know to get skilled and what you do. We have to go back to the "comprehensive" high school system of the 1950s, which stressed a lot of "shop" and practical commercial courses such as typing, and today would include various computer data entry jobs.

Education is like any other investment. Like housing. Don't buy more education or house than you really need in accordance to your temperament and actually talents and capabilities.

Jun. 12 2012 10:39 AM

Does this also include retirement savings- IRAs and 401Ks? I'm in my late 20s and despite working full time since college, have yet to have a job with retirement benefits. I'm worried about my generation's long-term outlook, since many of us will be paying off student loans for decades, rather than saving for retirement.

Jun. 12 2012 10:36 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Housing costs always closely tracks worker's incomes. Before WWII, most workers rented small apartments. Home ownership was for a privileged minority. In some countries, like Israel where I once lived, you need MANY co-signers to get mortgage; if you don't pay and run away, they will have to. No running away from debt. Despite that, I "owned" one small apartment for over TEN years, and had to pay a mortgage or friends and in-laws would be docked for it. I was lucky to be able to get rid of eventually and just barely recoup eventually. It was still a net loss.

The idea that one's house is a safe haven for investment was lost to me a long time ago. You don't own anything until it's paid off clear of all debts and liens. I am a happy renter today.

Jun. 12 2012 10:35 AM
lanvy-nyc from bronxville

this a mere market correction. Do we really think the little rediculous box we bought was truly worth what we paid?? Let's be honest here.

Jun. 12 2012 10:34 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

hjs - We do NOT NEED more college degrees, we need more skilled labor and we more tax cuts for rich people, because they are really hurtin'

Jun. 12 2012 10:30 AM

Profits are up, jobs have been outsourced, bonus checks have gone out.
The private sector IS doing great. Automation and outsourcing have made American unskilled labor pretty much valueless.
FYI - We need college degrees to get jobs in the 21st century

Jun. 12 2012 10:23 AM
Gianni Lovato from Chatham, NY

Please, let's put this thing in the proper context:
It's bad enough, without making it worse for political purposes.
But I' m sure that you, Brian, will do so in the course of the broadcast.

Gianni Lovato

Jun. 12 2012 09:57 AM

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