Reports from the Economic Front

a blog by Marty Hart-Landsberg

Wealth Concentration–It Keeps Growing

In my last post I shared some data on wealth concentration as of 2007.  Most commentators have assumed that the Great Recession worked as a leveler.  Specifically, that the crash of the financial markets would hit the wealthy harder than everyone else.

Well, it appears that was a faulty assumption.  As Robert Frank reports in the Wall Street Journal:

New calculations by Edward Wolff, the New York University economist and an expert on U.S. wealth statistics, show that the top 1% actually held onto its share of national wealth in the crisis, and may have even gained a bit.

According to his analysis, the top 1% held 34.6% of all national wealth in 2007. By Dec. 31, 2009, they held 35.6%.

Meanwhile, share of national wealth held by the bottom 90% fell to 25% from 27%.

To be clear, the super wealthy also lost during the current recession, just not as much as everyone else.  The resulting increase in wealth concentration during this current recession is very unusual–past recessions always did work to reduce (although only slightly) wealth inequality.

This trend looks unstoppable as long as existing relations of power and patterns of economic activity continue.

wealthchange_d.gif

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