Forbes has just released its latest list of America’s wealthiest 400. The new numbers don’t just stagger the imagination. They stagger common sense. The average Forbes 400 member now holds a fortune over 1,000 times the wealth of someone with a $5.2 million fortune.
The ‘average’ U.S. family is doing just fine, suggests the Federal Reserve’s latest triennial portrait of household income and wealth, the Survey of Consumer Finances. But typical Americans, the report also makes clear, are struggling something awful. Could both be true?
More than enough, the latest statistical evidence suggests, to warrant a full-fledged federal search. A new banking law in effect this month, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, has the potential to start that search in the right direction. But obstacles remain.
Despite well-known financial crimes that led to the Great Financial Disaster, there have been no criminal prosecutions of those who fraudulently marketed and sold the subprime mortgage-backed securities that wrecked our economy. Goldman Sachs epitomizes this fraudulent behavior.
A new study provides compelling evidence that public policy decisions in the United States reflect the interests of the nation’s rich and powerful much more than the nation’s political majority. Other developments, notes analyst Sheila Suess Kennedy, back up the study’s conclusions.
Pundits usually have income in mind when they talk about the top 1 percent. And analysts sometimes rank our richest by wealth. But Duke University sociologist Lisa Keister points out that if we really want to understand privilege, we need to start looking at both.
How concentrated has America’s wealth become? In the not-so-distant future, if current trends continue, the Koch brother, Walton, and Mars family households will together hold over $1 trillion in wealth, over 1 percent the net worth of a nation with over 300 million people.
A half-century since Dr. King’s dream, we’re living through a nightmare where America’s 400 richest now hold as much wealth as America’s 14 million African-American households. Dr. King worried deeply about wealth distribution in his day. He would be even more worried today.
Making the market “decisive” means that the Chinese government has decided to place profits before people — and even before that previously invincible talisman, economic growth.
In the United States today, thanks to glaring tax loopholes, even modestly competent tax attorneys can help their wealthy clients sidestep the federal estate tax almost entirely. If we don’t plug these loopholes soon, some observers feel, we may as well not even bother.