Excessive exec pay numbers show the financial industry learned nothing over the last decade.
What have legislators and bank executives learned since the 2008 economic collapse? Seems not much. Earlier this year, the Senate passed a financial deregulation bill that supporters claim will help small banks. Their idea of “small”? Banks with assets between $50 to $250 billion!

A new report from my Institute for Policy Studies colleagues Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo and Public Citizen’s Bartlett Naylor underscores another key reason why such a bill makes no sense. The CEOs at the second-tier banks the Senate legislation deregulates turn out to be nearly as wildly overpaid as execs at the mega-banks above them.

Lawmakers may still be keen to loosen rules for the financial industry, but activists aren’t letting banks off the hook. We have more in today’s issue on a lively campaign demanding more accountability from one big — and particularly bad — bank.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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Demanding Change at Wells Fargo
It’s becoming something of a tradition. Wells Fargo schedules its annual shareholder meeting at a location kept close to the chest until the last possible moment, in an attempt to keep protesters away. But despite the secrecy, those protesters show up, year after year, and demand accountability from the scandal-plagued bank. The 2018 meeting, held April 24 in Des Moines, Iowa, once again followed that script. Inequality.org co-editor Negin Owliaei has more on the demonstrators disrupting the meeting and their demands for real change.
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Let’s Build the Best Democracy Money Can Buy!
Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Mick Mulvaney is working diligently these days to gut the agency he now heads. But Mulvaney isn’t seeing that same diligence from the financial industry movers and shakers he’s endeavoring so hard to shield. Last week, at a financial industry conference in Washington, D.C., Mulvaney told 1,300 bankers to step up and open their wallets. Noted the former lawmaker: “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.” Bankers who buy access, Mulvaney essentially pronounced, are engaging in one of the “fundamental underpinnings of our representative democracy.” Or at least representative democracy as defined by Mulvaney, whose $7-million personal fortune sits him comfortably within America’s top 1 percent.
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A Vast and Hungry Black Hole Right Here on Earth
The German sociologist Georg Simmel, way back in 1900, likened grand concentrations of private wealth to stars in the sky. These days, here in our second grand global Gilded Age, the more appropriate celestial analogy might well be the black hole. The more wealth concentrates in a precious few pockets, we’ve come to understand, the more the resulting concentration sucks out from the rest of society. What exactly gets sucked out from below? Money, of course. But much more as well. Grand concentrations of wealth at the economic summit suck up talent. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on Inequality.org 

Fran Teplitz, Corporations Should Have to Hear From Their Owners. New federal rules make it harder for shareholders to change conditions at the companies they invest in.

Negin Owliaei, Arizona Teachers Show Link Between Tax Cuts and Underfunded Schools. The state’s teachers go on strike, calling for a ban on tax cuts until education funding reaches national average.

Elsewhere on the web 

Sarah Anderson, Brian Wakamo, and Bartlett Naylor, CEO-Worker Pay Ratios in the Banking Industry, Institute for Policy Studies and Public Citizen. A decade after the 2008 crash, excessive pay remains a major problem at our mega-banks.

Pirmin Fessler and Martin Schürz, Analyzing Wealth Inequality: A Conceptual Reflection, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Why we need to examine more than wealth distributional shares to understand how wealth concentration impacts us.

Jim Hightower, A Plutocratic Coup, Common Dreams. A long-forgotten incident reminds us about the ever-present danger the imperious rich pose to majority rule.

Jason Oh and Eric Zolt, Wealth Tax Add-Ons: An Alternative to Comprehensive Wealth Taxes, SSRN. Three ideas for better taxing the wealth of the wealthy.

Michael Hiltzik, More evidence that raising the Social Security retirement age is no problem for the rich, but tough on the poor, Los Angeles Times. A new study adds to a large and robust body of evidence showing a gulf in longevity between rich and poor.
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Is Inequality in America Irreversible?
We are living in a time of extreme inequality, and few places have become more unequal than the United States, where the 20 richest now own more wealth than the bottom half of the population combined.

In his latest book, activist Chuck Collins succinctly diagnoses the causes and drivers of rampant inequality and demolishes the simplistic theories that link current inequalities primarily to technological change and globalization or differences in merit. Is Inequality in America Irreversible? proposes a wide range of public policies that could de-rig our economic system and shows how transformative local campaigns can become a national movement for lasting egalitarian change.

Inequality.org readers who pre-order before May 31 can get 50 percent off the cover price. Just use promo code COL18.