The numbers: Mostly due to a rising stock market, the net worth of households rose in the third quarter.
The net worth of households and nonprofits improved to a record high in the third quarter of $109.04 trillion from $106.97 trillion, a gain of 1.9%, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.
Meanwhile, total domestic nonfinancial debt grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.4%, the slowest rate of the year, as businesses slowed down their pace of borrowing, the Fed said in its financial accounts of the U.S. report.
What happened: The buildup of financial wealth was concentrated in the stock market, which the Fed said rose by $1.2 trillion during the quarter. The value of real estate also rose, rising by $245 billion, and owners equity of the real estate they own rose to 59.9%, the strongest reading in 16 years.
Household debt rose at a 3.4% clip, with mortgage debt rising 3.1% while consumer credit rose 5.4%.
The growth in business debt outside the financial sector meanwhile slowed to 3.9% in the third quarter from 6.9% in the April-to-June period. Regulators appear increasingly concerned about the borrowing of businesses, particularly in the so-called leveraged loan segment.
The rise in the stock market
gave way to rising valuations, with equities to net worth (or Tobin’s Q) reaching 123.81%, the highest in 18 years.
If the turmoil in financial markets continues, however, those lofty valuations will recede.
Companies had $4.39 trillion in cash on their balance sheet, up from $4.26 trillion.
Showing their sensitivity to interest rates, the ratio of short-term debt to their total was 30.58%, down just a touch from 30.63% in the second quarter but near nine-year highs.