The wealthiest 10% hold 76% of the wealth: The rich continue to pull away from the rest of the crowd.

Wealth in the U.S. continues to accumulate into fewer hands.  A recent Congressional Budget Office report showed that the top 10% of U.S. families now control 76% of total wealth.  That is a massive amount considering total family wealth is at $67 trillion.  Wealth inequality continues to expand and is creating deeper divides in our political landscape.  Consider the other side of the coin where half of U.S. families don’t even own one stock.  Is it a good thing that wealth is concentrating in fewer hands?  It depends on who you ask but wealth inequality of this level was last seen in the Roaring 20s right before entering into the Great Depression.  People forget how quickly fortunes can turn.  Yet many Americans today are already struggling deeply financially.  The end result is a nation that is frustrated with the system since it doesn’t feel like it represents their needs.

The wealth divide

It is worth noting that having wealth inequality of this magnitude in the U.S. actually has never resulted in having a large middle class.  The middle class occurred during a period when wealth inequality was much lower – it was also a rare point in history.

First, it is worth looking at a chart of wealth inequality in the U.S. over 100 years:

102014-wealth-web-01

The Great Depression was horrible for a poor person.  For the rich, many lost money and certainly had to live with less.  What is interesting about our latest financial crisis is that the wealthiest in our country lost the least and regained most of their wealth the fastest.  This is largely due to the bailouts targeting the asset classes that most have within large banking institutions.

The middle class and working class in this country continue to have a tough time as they are thrown into a system where debt is a way of life.  You want to go to college?  You will likely need student loans.  Want to buy a home?  You need a mortgage.  Need a car?  Take this auto loan.  The days of being frugal and saving to even buy a car for example are long gone.  The system is juiced with debt and most people are simply living day to day barely making enough to service their debt.

This growth in net worth has largely occurred for a small segment of society:

mar04-wealth

The bottom 60% saw no real gains to their net worth between 1983 and 2010.  But look at the gains at the top.  What is going on here?  What has happened over the last generation is the slow dismantling of the middle class.  When most of Congress is made up by millionaires, it should come as no surprise where their interests will be.

Most of the real gains in net worth occurred at the top 10 percent of the spectrum.  And with fewer people owning homes thanks to big investors buying properties, the one vehicle for building wealth for most Americans is now too expensive.

This almost ensures that this pattern is going to continue short of some kind of deep change in the system.  At least we know where the gains are going.

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5 Comments on this post

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  1. John Stewart said:

    Jesus said that “the first will be last and the last will be first”. What is important to the 10% is money and power which is motivated by greed. They have more than they need or can even ever use. Meanwhile there are many in the world that don’t have enough to live on. When Jesus returns he will judge the world by “how did you treat your fellow man” You can find this in Matthew 25, the sheep and goats story. So we should not envy the rich, nor should we try to be like them. What’s really important to God can be found at ItsHisStory.com

    August 21st, 2016 at 7:56 am
  2. Beano McReano said:

    Hillary should demand that Warren Buffett turn half his wealth over to the government and see how well he likes that?

    August 21st, 2016 at 8:35 pm
  3. Tommy said:

    All under Obama. I guess he did say he would fundamentally transform America. Mission accomplished.

    August 21st, 2016 at 9:19 pm
  4. roddy6667 said:

    62 percent of Americans don’t even have $1000 in savings.

    http://www.mybudget360.com/how-much-do-americans-have-saved-savings-account-typical-average/

    You see 8 Americans, 5 of them don’t have $1000.

    Even the peasants in the hinterlands of China have more than that.

    August 22nd, 2016 at 5:08 pm
  5. Uncle Frank said:

    What’s so surprising?
    In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 35% of all privately held stock, 64.4% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top ten percent have 81% to 94% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and almost 80% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.
    http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

    August 23rd, 2016 at 3:24 pm

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