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Household wealth taking a tumble

Household wealth fell for the second consecutive quarter, decreasing by 1.9 per cent ($276 billion) in the September quarter 2022, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Total household wealth is now $14.2 trillion, after the previous fall of 3.3 per cent ($494 billion) in the June quarter this year. However, household wealth grew by 0.7 per cent through the year despite these two consecutive quarterly falls.

Katherine Keenan, ABS head of finance and wealth statistics, said: “This fall in household wealth was almost entirely driven by the decrease in the value of residential land and dwellings, which recorded its largest decline since December 2008.”

The softer fall in household wealth in the September quarter was due in part to an increase in household deposits (up 3.5 per cent to $50.8 billion), driven by a rise in term deposits. 

“The record increase in household take up of term deposits coincided with increasing interest rates, and income tax returns,” Ms Keenan said.

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The contribution of superannuation to the fall in wealth was relatively flat at -0.1 percentage points (compared to the -2.0 percentage point contribution in the June quarter). The superannuation guarantee was increased in the September quarter from 10 per cent to 10.5 per cent. This resulted in increased employer contributions and helped offset impacts from domestic and international stock markets.

Total demand for credit was $118 billion, led by private non-financial corporations ($69.0b) and households ($26.3b).

Private non-financial corporations’ demand for credit was driven by merger and acquisition activity with the Reserve Bank also noting the need to fund regular operations amidst supply chain issues. Private non-financial corporations’ demand for loans was the strongest since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, with strong growth in bank loans from large businesses.

Household demand for credit slowed this quarter (down 50.4 per cent), reflecting a weakening appetite for housing credit due to interest rate rises and inflationary pressures.

National government’s decrease in demand for credit was due to $24.8b of bond repayments in July 2022. Social assistance benefits have softened since the height of the pandemic, which has reduced funding requirements.

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