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High-net-worth households lost $2T amid end-of-year volatility

The top 1% of U.S. households took a $2.3 trillion hit from the plunge in corporate equities and mutual fund shares in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Fed.

Newly released data provides quarterly distributions of U.S. household wealth by category: the top 1%, top 40%, top 90% and the bottom 50%, since 1989. A wide variety of account types are included.

While the top 1% experienced a drop in wealth from the decline of equity holdings, some of the drop was counterbalanced by gains in municipal securities and other debt instruments, increased deposits in checking accounts, real estate gains and other holdings. The overall drop in wealth for the top 1% was $1.9 trillion — roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product of Italy.

Luxury automobiles parked in front of the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco. (Bloomberg News)
Luxury automobiles stand outside the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco, on Monday, May 18, 2015. The ultra-luxury housing market is scaling new heights as a record number of properties around the world command prices topping $100 million. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Since the last quarter of 2013, the top 1% of households have held greater than a 30% share of U.S. household wealth.

The database will be updated quarterly, according to the Fed.