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Americans are $2 trillion wealthier

Scott Jagow Sep 17, 2009

The Federal Reserve said today that household net worth grew by $2 trillion in the second quarter. That’s the first quarterly increase in two years. Where is all this money? In a piggy bank, under the mattress, in a basement safe?

No, a good chunk of it is in the stock market. From USA Today:

The value of Americans’ stock holdings rose 21.6% from the first quarter.

Net worth in the second quarter also was boosted by higher home prices. The value of real-estate holdings rose 1.8%, according to the Fed report.

It’s clear some people are jumping right back into the deep end of the pool. But not everybody. From CNN Money:

Household debt shrunk by 1.7% in the second quarter, the fourth consecutive decline. Debtloads had never contracted before until the current downturn.

The savings rate is near 6%. Americans have a long way to go to return to their net worth of two years ago (still 19% below), but perhaps, more people aren’t in a hurry to get there this time. That was our undoing before – the magical stock market, the house as ATM. It’d be nice to have a collective net worth that can’t just disappear in an instant.

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