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The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class

Publication Date:
Jan 2013
Project Programs:
U.S. 2010

The last two decades have witnessed some remarkable events in terms of personal wealth. After rising sharply through 2007, the collapse of the stock market and the sudden collapse in home prices took an immense toll on many Americans. What happened and why is an amazing story about the Great Recession and its repercussions.

● Median wealth plummeted over the years 2007 to 2010.

● Middle class debt exploded from 1983 to 2007, already creating a highly fragile middle class. Their situation worsened during the Great Recession. As a result inequality of net worth, after almost two decades of little movement, rose sharply between 2007 and 2010.

● The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth widened considerably in the years between 2007 and 2010. Blacks and especially Hispanics lost in net worth and net equity in their homes.

● Young households (under age 45) also were pummeled by the Great Recession, as their wealth declined sharply both in absolute terms and in comparison with older households.

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