Americans are quickly getting poorer as the much-touted economic “recovery” remains elusive. Household wealth plummeted by more than four percent from July to September according to a report released last week by the Federal Reserve, marking the steepest drop since 2008 and the second quarterly decline in a row. That represents an average loss of about $21,000 per household in just three months.
At the end of the third quarter, household wealth plunged by $2.4 trillion, from a total of about $60 trillion down to slightly less than $57.5 trillion. The dramatic drop in net worth — the value of all assets minus total debts and liabilities -—was led by still-declining housing prices and crashing stock values.
Despite wild money printing by the Fed in recent years, home values are not expected to recover any time soon. During the third quarter, American real estate assets lost about $100 billion from the previous quarter. And banks are still sitting on an unknown but huge number of foreclosed properties expected to keep prices depressed for years to come.
Meanwhile, even as many Americans rapidly lose their savings, prices for most essentials — food, gasoline, energy, and more — have largely continued to rise. Spending on food, however, has declined. And experts say the indicators are troubling.
“In short, tens of millions of households are failing to attain an adequate standard for food purchasing,”said president Jim Weill of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a lobbying group, following the release of a December report analyzing data about spending on food. And there will be consequences, he noted.
American households have lost about $8 trillion of their net worth so far during Obama’s first term. That’s about $27,000 for every person in the country, not including the trillions in federal debt tacked on in recent years.
Of course, much of the blame rests with the U.S. central bank, which inflated the housing bubble and continues to manipulate markets while creating ever-greater amounts of new money to bail out banks and governments. And much of the perceived increase in net worth during the “boom” was illusory to begin with.
But if something does not change soon, the situation is only going to get worse, experts are warning. In the meantime, many pessimists are recommending investing in farm land and precious metals.