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Surveying The Aftermath Of The Storm: Changes In Family Finances From 2007 To 2009

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Executive Summary

From 2007 to 2009, wealth declined for most families across the initial 2007 wealth spectrum, and it declined very substantially for some. Yet many families saw only small changes and a non-negligible group of families saw substantial increases in their wealth. This diversity of outcomes is pervasive in the data. For that reason, in this paper, the authors use distributions to describe as clearly as possible the central tendencies and dispersions of outcomes or changes. By definition, changes in families' portfolios underlay the observed wealth shifts, but it is sometimes not directly obvious from the data whether the changes were driven by portfolio rebalancing or by revaluation of portfolio items.

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