Illustration of the ‘great income shift:’
We are not all in this together. The UK economy is flat, the US is weak and the Greek debt crisis, according to some commentators, is threatening another Lehman Brothers-style meltdown. But a new report shows the world’s wealthiest people are getting more prosperous – and more numerous – by the day.
The globe’s richest have now recouped the losses they suffered after the 2008 banking crisis. They are richer than ever, and there are more of them – nearly 11 million – than before the recession struck.
In the world of the well-heeled, the rich are referred to as “high net worth individuals” (HNWIs) and defined as people who have more than $1m (£620,000) of free cash.
According to the annual world wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, the wealth of HNWIs around the world reached $42.7tn (£26.5tn) in 2010, rising nearly 10% in a year and surpassing the peak of $40.7tn reached in 2007, even as austerity budgets were implemented by many governments in the developed world.
The report also measures a category of “ultra-high net worth individuals” – those with at least $30m rattling around, looking for a home. The number of individuals in this super-rich bracket climbed 10% to a total of 103,000, and the total value of their investments jumped by 11.5% to $15tn, demonstrating that even among the rich, the richest get richer quicker. Altogether they represent less than 1% of the world’s HNWIs – but they speak for 36% of HNWI’s total wealth.
[...] Generally, HNWIs are most concentrated in the US, Japan and Germany: 53% of the world’s most wealthy live in one of those three countries, but it is Asian-Pacific countries where the ranks of the rich are swelling fastest. For the first time last year the region surpassed Europe in terms of HNWI individuals.
But how are the rest of us (who are not wealthy) doing? From — Bill Moyers: “Welcome to the Plutocracy!” The average American income has increase just $303 since 1980:
“… [T]he economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez… found that from 1950 through 1980, the share of all income in America going to everyone but the rich increased from 64 percent to 65 percent. Because the nation’s economy was growing handsomely, the average income for 9 out of 10 Americans was growing, too – from $17,719 to $30,941. That’s a 75 percent increase in income in constant 2008 dollars.
But then it stopped. Since 1980 the economy has also continued to grow handsomely, but only a fraction at the top have benefited. The line flattens for the bottom 90% of Americans. Average income went from that $30,941 in 1980 to $31,244 in 2008. Think about that: the average income of Americans increased just $303 dollars in 28 years.
That’s wage repression.”
From Robert Reich:
“The top 1 percent now gets almost a quarter of the nation’s total income — a larger share than at any time since the 1920s. The top 1 percent have also received about 40 percent of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts.”
From Mark Thoma: “The Great Income Shift”
This great income shift means the average middle-income American family had about $9,000 less after-tax income in 2007, and an average household in the top 1 percent had $741,000 more, than they would have had if the 1979 income distribution had remained. Here’s how this looks in graph and table form:
Fully two-thirds of the income gains in the last economic expansion (2001-2007) flowed to just the top 1 percent. This is not a healthy sign for a society. As Professor Thaler urges, we need to decide whether we want to promote still-greater inequality (by extending the high-income tax cuts) or lean against this trend. Each year the average millionaire gets about $125,000 from the Bush tax cuts, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Now seems to be a good time to say enough is enough.
Wow. Good thing the Republicans are unwilling to raise America’s debt ceiling if the tax cuts for the wealthy aren’t extended and cuts to Medicare / Medicaid / Social Security aren’t made — right, teabaggers?!
Video: The End of the American Dream?
- Q: What are Republicans willing to sacrifice to save Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy? A: The entire frigging country.
- GOP Blew Up Debt Negotiations To Protect Tax Breaks For People Making $500,000 Or More: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), a member of the bipartisan debt discussion group led by Vice President Joe Biden, said Republicans chose to “protect taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies, tax breaks for corporate jets, and tax breaks for millionaires”…
- An honest GOP campaign slogan for 2012: The United States of Corporate Power: THINK PROGRESS: Several of the 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls have laid out economic platforms that would include huge cuts in the corporate tax rate: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) called for lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent …
- Oklahoma family reunions, meth, the Koch Brothers, and GOP politics: A very sad story which, when you look at Oklahoma politics and budget cuts, isn’t really a surprise — and isn’t just happening in Oklahoma: A Waukomis woman pleaded guilty Friday to contributing to the death of her 15-year-old daughter, …
- Class War, Corporate-style: Where are the jobs in America? In the pockets of corporate CEOs: As most American families continue to struggle with high unemployment and stagnant wages, CEOs at the country’s 350 biggest companies saw their pay jump 11% last year …
- Bill Maher: “As long as we’ve got three wars going, America needs to add one more: a CLASS WAR.” — “The Republicans, the party of millionaires, are shutting down the government because they can’t have a tax-free world.”
- Some of America’s richest corporations pay NO TAXES — while Main Street Americans shoulder the full burden: If this is the “freedom” that teabaggers say they’re fighting for, I don’t think they know what the word means. A Think Progress report: …Indeed, as politicians are asking ordinary Americans to sacrifice their education, their health, their labor rights, …
- Without labor nothing prospers: how far the Republican party has fallen: “Today in America, unions have a secure place in our industrial life. Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. …
- Income redistribution the GOP way: continue Bush tax cuts, abolish Medicare: [S]imply letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule (or paying for any portions that policymakers decide to extend) would stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio for the next decade. While we’d have to do much more to keep the debt stable …