BUSINESS
04/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

U.S. Household Net Worth Tumbles By $11 Trillion, The Combined Annual Output of Germany, Japan, UK

The wealth of American families plunged nearly 18% in 2008, erasing years of sharp gains on housing and stocks and marking the biggest loss since the Federal Reserve began keeping track after World War II.

The Fed said Thursday that U.S. households' net worth tumbled by $11 trillion -- a decline in a single year that equals the combined annual output of Germany, Japan and the U.K. The data signal the end of an epoch defined by first and second homes, rising retirement funds and ever-fatter portfolios.

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