As of Dec. 31, 2015, the net worth of U.S. households (including that of Non-Profit Organizations, which presumably exist for the benefit of all) reached a staggering $86.7 trillion. To put that in perspective, it's about one-third more than the value of all global equity markets, which were worth $64.6 trillion at the end of last year according to Bloomberg.
On a real, per capita basis, the net worth of the average person living in the U.S. reached a record $270,000. This measure of wealth has been rising, on average, about 2.4% per year since records were first kept beginning in 1951. There's nothing unusual going on: life in the U.S. has been getting better and better for generations. If you're hungry for more details of the steady march of progress, check out Human Progress, a worthwhile project of Cato, my favorite think-tank.
And even if it were the case that the entirety of the value of stocks, bonds, deposits and real estate included in these statistics were owned by a handful of people, we all enjoy their benefits. These assets are what provide jobs and the wherewithal to run and maintain our economy.
This ongoing accumulation of wealth is not a house of cards built on a bulging debt bubble either, regardless of what you might hear from the scaremongers. On the contrary, the typical household has undergone a significant deleveraging since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008. Household liabilities today are the same as they were in early 2008 (about $14.5 trillion), but financial assets have increased by one-third, thanks to significant gains in savings deposits, bonds, and equities. Since early 2008, the value of households' real estate holdings has increased by a relatively modest 8%.