Monthly Archives: March 2017

How 90% of American Households Lost an Average of $17,000 in Wealth to the Plutocrats in 2016

Paul Buchheit | March 06 2017 | Common Dreams

Steve Lambert, an artist living in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, created this sign in 2012 to find out from people in the Greater Boston area what they thought of this question. (Photo: Nate Goldman/WBUR)

America has always been great for the richest 1%, and it’s rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation comes from recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here.

The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from Every Other Segment of Society 

These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While there’s no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who still have an average net worth of $1.3 million, nearly half of the wealth transfer ($1.94 trillion) came from the nation’s poorest 90% — the middle and lower classes, according to Piketty and Saez and Zucman. That’s over $17,000 in housing and savings per lower-to-middle-class household lost to the super-rich.

Put another way, the average 1% household took an additional $3 million of our national wealth in one year while education and infrastructure went largely unfunded.

It Gets Worse: Each MIDDLE-CLASS Household Lost $35,000 to the 1%

According to Piketty and Saez and Zucman, the true middle class is “the group of adults with income between the median and the 90th percentile.” This group of 50 million households lost $1.76 trillion of their wealth in 2016, or over $35,000 each. That’s a $35,000 decline in housing and financial assets, with possibly increased debt, for every middle-class household.

Housing Wealth for the 90% Has Been Converted into Investment Wealth for the Plutocrats 

In the 1980s, the housing wealth of the bottom 90% made up about 15 percent of total household wealth (Figure 8 here and Page 41 here).

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