Fed: Average Family Lost 38.8 Percent Of Its Wealth In Crash

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As James Carville famously said, "It's the economy, stupid." And if people don't start to feel things getting better, it makes it that much harder to get a win this year. Fortunately, polling shows that a substantial number of voters, even those who are unhappy with Obama, still blame most of the problem on Republican obstructionism—because with numbers like this, he'll need every vote he can get:

The average American family lost 38.8 percent of its wealth from 2007 to 2010, with the biggest losses concentrated among households with the most assets tied to their homes, a Federal Reserve study shows.
Median net worth declined to $77,300 in 2010, an 18-year low, from $126,400 in 2007, the central bank said in its Survey of Consumer Finances. Mean net worth fell 14.7 percent to a nine-year low of $498,800 from $584,600, the central bank said today in Washington.

“The impact has been a massive destruction of wealth all across the board,” said Lance Roberts, who oversees $500 million as chief executive officer of Streettalk Advisors LLC in Houston. “What you see is an economy that’s really very, very stressed for the bottom 60 to 70 percent of the population that’s struggling just to make ends meet.”

The declines in household wealth in the course of the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression have held back the consumer spending that makes up about 70 percent of the economy. Fed policy makers led by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke meet next week to consider whether the central bank needs to add to its record stimulus after employment grew at the slowest pace in a year in May.

The Fed has already taken unprecedented steps to boost the economy as it battled the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009, slashing its key interest rate almost to zero and purchasing $2.3 trillion in debt to lower long-term borrowing costs. Even so, the jobless rate has stayed above 8 percent since February 2009, compared with the central bank’s long-range goal of 4.9 percent to 6 percent.

“Although declines in the values of financial assets or business were important factors for some families, the decreases in median net worth appear to have been driven most strongly by a broad collapse in house prices,” Fed economists wrote in the report released today.

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