To hear the Federal Reserve reports, you would think most Americans are rolling in the dough. According to the Fed total household wealth in the first quarter, climbed to a new high of $70.4 trillion. That figure is up from the $66.8 trillion in the boom time of 2007.

Add to this the exuberant action of the stock market, and the upward movement of the housing market in areas around the country and we all should feel downright giddy.

If we don’t happen to feel rich and wonderful all over, there may be a number of causes for this disconnect.

Moody’s Analytics noted that the high household wealth figure of $70.4 Trillion is under 10 percent of the 2007 figure when adjusted for inflation. The other hidden element in the wealth equation is the growth in the population. The average household wealth high-water mark in 2013 of $539,500 is distributed over more people and as of last year, was a 37 percent drop from the 2007 figure.

Another wealth factor is observed when we realize where the economy gets a bigger bang for its buck. Wealth effect theory says that every dollar in stock market wealth adds 2 cents to spending as opposed to housing wealth which adds 10 cents to consumer spending. Regrettably both the stock market and housing, while appearing to have gained, have been less than stellar.

Yet the wealth effect from stocks has been very selective. And that brings us to the principal reason for the wealth divergence—the allocation of the wealth gains.

The majority of the current growth in American wealth has come from the stock market. According to the Fed, the gains in total household wealth break out with the stock market responsible for $1.5 trillion of the gains and $784 billion attributable to rising house prices.

The wealthy top 5 percent of Americans hold 80 percent of the stocks, this from Ed Wolff, researcher at NYU. For most Americans, housing wealth is more important than stocks. Unfortunately, homes have not enjoyed as much of a recovery as stocks. Which is why many have turned to gold as a way of preserving what wealth they have.

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