The financial crisis roughly a decade ago was a defining moment in U.S. economics and regulation, but really this was a story of debt and who gets left holding the bag. At that time, the country had taken on an incredible amount of debt in the form of mortgages and student loans. And it seems that we have reached those levels again.
In the first quarter of 2017, household debt outstanding reached $12.7 trillion, beating the peak set back in 2008 before the precipitous fall not long after. The financial crisis as we know it was brought about by the housing market collapse, and with mortgages making a significant portion of the debt that Americans had, the market didn’t stand a chance.
For a point of perspective, household debt outstanding in the first quarter is larger than China’s economy, or nearly four times that of Germany’s.
On the other hand, household net worth is also at a record high of $94.8 trillion, surfing on the wave of perhaps one of the biggest bull markets ever. However, most of this wealth creation only benefited those at the top with the capital to invest.