Posts Tagged ‘wealth’

Here’s more proof the middle class is dying.

The middle-class share of American wealth has been shrinking for the better part of three decades and recently fell to its lowest level since 1940, according to a new studyby economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics.

In other words, remember the surge of the great American middle class after World War II? That’s all gone, at least by one measure.

Hear Darrick Hamilton, Associate Professor of Economics and Urban Policy at The New School ( for Public Engagement (, speaking at the New School Minute, where faculty from every school present their timely and celebrated research in a series of rapid-fire 60-second lectures.

I went to grad-school at the University of North carolina at Chapel hill with Darrick!! :D

The Bottom 50% of People on Earth Have Only 1% of the Wealth

The gross economic inequality in America gets quite a bit of attention, at least from the non-rich. But when you look at the distribution of wealth in the entire world, the picture gets even more shocking.

Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report breaks down the distribution of wealth around the world in several interesting ways. Some key figures:

-Average global wealth is $51,600 per adult (not per person).

-In Africa, the poorest continent, average wealth is $4,929 per adult. In North America, the wealthiest continent, average wealth is $296,004 per adult.

-North America and Europe each have about 1/3 of the world’s total wealth. The rest of the world combined has the remaining 1/3.

-Having just $4,000 in wealth places you in the top half of the world’s wealthy. It takes $75,000 to be in the top 10%, and $753,000 to be in the top 1%.

-The top 10% of the world’s wealthy people own 86% of the world’s wealth.

The entire bottom half of the world’s population by wealth owns only 1% of total global wealth.

That is appalling.

(And no, this data should not be interpreted to mean that poor people in wealthy countries should “consider themselves lucky.”)

[The full report, via Timothy Taylor. Image via Credit Suisse]

Yes it’s true that America’s income gap is widest since the Great Depression (NPR), but It’s even worse that that:

  1. This is just income and doesn’t include the wealth already amassed by the wealthy so the real difference in economic well-being is much larger.
  2. Back in the 30s Americans had effective labor unions and most were aware of the situation they were facing. Today, this is no longer the case so the efforts to correct this imbalance are very weak.
  3. The political parties in the 30s had some accountability to the majority and not only to their wealthy corporate owners. Hence FDR was willing and able to represent “main-street” and not only “Wall-street” despite strong pressure, and even an attempted coup, by the “banksters.”
  4. While it was certainly a painful collapse of the economy, the Great Depression was in the middle of a very long period of growth in wages and standards of living for the majority of Americans. This period ended in the mid 70s and for the vast majority of Americans, things have been getting worse for 3 decades and getting catastrophic in the last few years. In this context, the long term, irreversible, damage is much worse today than in the 30s.
Consider a bad flu hitting a strong young person as opposed to a chronically ill old person: same disease but worse effects and dismal prognosis :'(

Report: Wealthy Thrive and Poorest Dive as Surge in US Inequality Continues

 Lauren McCauley, staff writer at Common