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Household net worth holding up

Thursday 2nd October 2008

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New Zealand household net worth dipped slightly by $6,700 or 1.7% during the June 2008 quarter according to Spicers' latest Household Saving Indicators report.

This comes after small decreases of $6,400 for the March 2008 quarter and $1,930 for the December 2007 quarter.

Spicers chief Gordon Noble-Campbell says for most New Zealand households, the decline needs to be put into context with the very high gains they have enjoyed over recent years.

"Despite the volatile economic times we're currently experiencing, the average New Zealand household net worth is $380,574, up $148,074 over the past five years."

"Most households are in a strong financial position with only some belt tightening required to get through the current uncertainty."

On the other side of the ledger, the quarterly growth in liabilities has slowed to 1.1%, the lowest increase since the September quarter of 1998. The annual rate of growth has slowed to 8.6%.

Noble-Campbell says this is well down from the housing boom peak of 16.4% for the year ended June 2004.

"New Zealanders are taking positive steps to manage their debt as they reduce consumption fuelled borrowing based on rising house prices."

"Households are wisely much more wary of taking on new debt in the current economic climate."

Financial assets increased by 0.4% as households move to less volatile income assets such as cash, term deposits and cash PIE funds.

Noble-Campbell says this is encouraging, particularly if the trend strengthens.

"With more than 80% of our wealth tied up in residential housing, it's great to see more New Zealanders starting to value the benefits of diversification by investing in a wider range of financial assets."

"Also, on the upside, is the potential for "cashed up" investors to return to equity markets when the recovery comes with the possibility of picking up some bargains on the way," he says.

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