Friday, May 31, 2013


The Washington Post has an article based on research at the St. Louis Fed, showing that net worth has not recovered from the recession. The article is titled Americans have rebuilt less than half the wealth lost to recession.

The article includes the following graph

Its not clear, however, that comparing wealth to the 2007 peak makes sense. Consider the following graph of net worth from 1990 to 2012

The two graphs are not directly comparable. The lower one shows net worth of all households and non-profit organizations in billions of dollars. It is not adjusted for inflation or the number of households. Nevertheless, it illustrates the problem with the first graph. The build up in wealth from 2002 to 2007 was clearly above the trend. why woulkd it be reasonable to expect a return to that lelvel of wealth rather than a return to the trend. The current levels of net worth appears consistent with the longer term trend.


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