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Australians suddenly richer after statistician 'finds' $338 billion

SYDNEY - Australians are suddenly a whole lot better off after the government statistician "found" A$325 billion ($338 billion) in share assets previously unrecognized.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday released its latest report on household assets which included massive upward revisions to estimates for equity holdings. Total financial assets were now put at A$3.1 trillion at the end of March, compared to the originally reported A$2.77 trillion.

The revision is worth roughly A$14,380 for every one of the country's 22.6 million people.

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"This issue incorporates new estimates for households holding of unlisted shares and other equity in other private non financial corporations," the statistician drily noted.

The value of such equity is now put at A$383 billion at the end of March, compared to the original A$91 billion.

"The Bureau of Statistics has effectively 'found' A$325 billion in household wealth," said Craig James, chief economist at CommSec.

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Total financial assets also rose further in the second quarter to stand at A$3.11 trillion by the end of June, up A$76 billion on the same period last year.

The upward revisions to wealth also mean households do not look quite as stretched when compared to their debts.

The ABS now estimates the ratio of debt to liquid assets was 129.1 percent in March, well down on the original estimate of 170.1 percent.

There have been long-standing concerns that the high debt levels of Australian households left them vulnerable to an economic shock such as a sharp rise in the, currently low, 5.1 percent unemployment rate.

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