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They’ve been popping the corks this past week—first with the stock market reaching new highs, and then with the announcement that household wealth had regained most of its pre-recession peak.
Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession. The gains are helping support the economy and could lead to further spending and growth.
And they’re right: if you examine the Federal Reserve’s historical data, household wealth amounted to $66.071 trillion at the end of 2012 compared to $66.118 in 2007.
But most of that recovery has been in financial as against nonfinancial assets—think stocks instead of real estate. And, as we know, the ownership of financial assets is much more unequally distributed than other assets.
Corks are indeed popping—for those at the very top of the distribution of wealth. As for the rest of us, well, we won’t be opening up the champagne anytime soon.