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Opinion
Robert Burgess

The Most Important Number of the Week Is $25.6 Trillion

The jump in U.S. household net worth has significant implications for inflation and the economy.

The housing market says a lot about the recovery and inflation.

The housing market says a lot about the recovery and inflation.

Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg

To say the pandemic has turned traditional economic theory on its head would be an understatement for the ages. No economist can say with a straight face that he or she predicted that the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression would just as quickly turn into boom times not seen since the 1980s. Likewise, no market strategist can say he or she predicted the historic rally in stocks or appreciation in home prices that accompanied the pandemic. 

This week brought some more news that no one thought would be possible during a pandemic, which is that U.S. household net worth ballooned by $25.6 trillion in the 12 months ended March 31, bringing the total to $136.9 trillion. To put the rise in perspective, consider that the average annual increase in the 10 years through 2019 was a measly $5.35 trillion.