Thanks to the ownership society, families have never lost more in three months than they did between July and September of this year. And I have no doubt that when the numbers for the fourth quarter are totaled up, 2008 will go down as the worst year for destruction of family wealth in history.
How bad has the third quarter damage been? Household net worth fell $2.81 trillion, the most since records began in 1952, to $56.5 trillion. Real-estate-related assets declined by $646.9 billion, following a $217.1 billion loss. Owners' equity of real-estate holdings dropped to a record-low 44.7% in the third quarter, from 46% in the second quarter. With 1.9 million jobs lost in the last year and unemployment claims at a 26 year high, people are hurting.
You will remember back in 2004 when President George W. Bush boasted about the wonders of the ownership society. In case you forgot, he bragged about his June 2002 America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to increase by at least 5.5 million families the number of minority homeowners before 2010. As Bush boasted, "under his leadership, the overall U.S. homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2004 was at an all time high of 69.2%."
With a $10 trillion loss in home equity and stock portfolio value in the last year, I wonder if those folks are glad to be part of Bush's ownership society.