Wealth, net of financial liabilities, is the value of all the assets, real and financial, which guarantee an economic benefit to the owner of the asset, either in the form of the income flow they generate or the proceeds from their sale or liquidation.
The purpose of this note is to provide a complete picture of the stock of wealth, net and gross, of the institutional sectors: households, in their dual function as consumers and producers of goods and services, non-financial corporations, financial corporations and general government.
The assessment of the stock of financial assets and liabilities carried out by the Bank of Italy is exhaustive. The assessment of the stock of non-financial assets carried out by Istat is not yet complete, as in other EU countries, due to the unavailability of data on certain assets that are more difficult to measure, such as monuments, valuables and some non-financial non-produced assets (e.g. natural resources other than land). The incompleteness does not compromise the information content of the estimates.
The wealth estimates compiled by Istat and the Bank of Italy released in this report provide a comprehensive description of the assets held by the institutional sectors and of how they have changed over time. The report also makes a comparison with other advanced economies, although international comparability remains imperfect.
At the end of 2020, the net wealth of Italian households stood at €10,010 billion, 8.7 times the size of their disposable income, growing by 1 per cent (about €100 billion) with respect to 2019. Dwellings, which represent the main component of household investment, accounted for about half of gross wealth (€5,163 billion). Financial assets equalled €4,800 billion, up from the previous year, mainly owing to the increase in deposits and insurance technical reserves. Total household liabilities came to €967 billion, a level which was substantially stable compared to 2019. Compared with some advanced economies, in Italy household net wealth remained high in proportion to disposable income, whereas it was lower in per capita terms.
The net wealth of non-financial corporations amounted to €1,053 billion at the end of 2020. Total assets equalled €4,934 billion, 60 per cent of which were non-financial assets. The financial component (€1,965 billion) grew with respect to 2019, mainly owing to the increase in deposits. In the same period, the value of non-financial assets, which is primarily composed of non-residential buildings and machinery and equipment, decreased. Financial liabilities declined slightly, with the result that Italian non-financial corporations continued to be less indebted by international comparison.
The net wealth of financial corporations amounted to €739 billion at the end of 2020, mostly reflecting the balance of financial assets and liabilities. Gross wealth rose by about 8 per cent, driven mainly by the increase in deposits and securities. As far as financial liabilities are concerned, the increase was due to insurance technical reserves and deposits.
At the end of 2020, general government net wealth was negative by €1,473 billion (about -90 per cent of GDP). Non-financial and financial assets, equal to €1,047 billion and €612 billion respectively, were lower than financial liabilities (€3,133 billion). A similar ratio of net wealth to GDP was also observed for the United Kingdom.