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STOCKED UP

New data show rich people hold more stocks than ever

An investor stands in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China.
Reuters/Aly Song
Rich Americans are doing better in the market than everybody else.
  • Karen Ho
By Karen Ho

Global finance and economics reporter

The wealthiest 10% of Americans did a lot better in the stock market from 2016 and 2019 than everybody else.

The average stock holdings held by the top 10% grew by an estimated $67,000, to well above $1.7 million, an increase greater than the US median household income in 2018. While that $67,000 gain was not huge by historical standard, it was much better than everybody else. The average amount held by all other groups barely budged from 2016 to 2019. This is according to recently released data from the US Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, the government’s most reliable data on household wealth.

The stock market has been a cornerstone of US president Donald Trump’s claims his administration has boosted the country’s economy. The Federal Reserve data suggest those stock market gains have not trickled down to the average American. The average estimated stock holdings of the least wealthy 25% of Americans actually went down from $8,100 in 2016 to $6,400 to 2019.

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