Comparison of Japan, US and European Consumer Balance Sheet

When comparing the economies of Japan, Europe and the United States, it’s important to remember that the structure of the financial systems of each area are very different.  Below is a great chart put together by the BOJ which compares what the asset side of households’ balance sheets looks like.

US consumers hold a much larger share of their financial assets in equity markets compared to Japanese or Euro area residents.  This is why when the equity markets sell off in the US there is a much greater effect on the real economy than there is in Japan or Europe.  In Japan and Europe, the consumer doesn’t get the signal of a weak economy until unemployment rises, or the banking system hurts to the point that deposits are impaired.