Britain’s top 100 execs have already pocketed more compensation on average than typical British workers will take home for the entire year.
 
INEQUALITY.ORG
THIS WEEK
We may only be a few days into 2019, but chief execs at the top 100 firms in the UK have already “celebrated” Fat Cat Day last week. As of January 4, notes a new Centre on Labour and Social Studies report, Britain’s top 100 execs have pocketed more compensation on average than typical British workers will take home for the entire year.

My colleague Sarah Anderson contributed to the Centre’s new Fat Cat Day report with some perspective from the United States. Our enormous U.S. corporate pay disparities, turns out, make the UK CEO-worker pay gap look like a minor crevice.

Also in the new UK Fat Cat Day report: some tax-based solutions for tackling our corporate economic divide — and moving closer to the day when we don’t have to celebrate a Fat Cat Day at all. Now that would make for a happy New Year!

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
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FACES ON THE FRONTLINES
How Activists Moved the Dial on Student Loan Debt
Student loan debt last year hit still another record high of nearly $1.5 trillion. The good news? High-profile progressive lawmakers are now proposing bold policies to address the skyrocketing costs of higher education. They’re offering up ideas ranging from free college to complete cancellation of student loan debt. The national conversation has come quite a long way in the decade since the 2008 recession, when activists first pushed the student-loan crisis front and center. Siona Peterous has more on the grassroots groups who’ve spent years organizing for sweeping changes to end the crushing burden of student loan debt.
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WORDS OF WISDOM
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PETULANT PLUTOCRAT
OF THE WEEK
No Money for Pensions, But Plenty for Parties
Private equity work has been sweet for Marc Leder, the numero uno at Sun Capital Partners. He’s parlayed his takeovers of troubled firms into a fortune big enough to make him a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers in basketball and the New Jersey Devils in hockey. New York’s tabloids, meanwhile, have come to dub the hard-partying Leder “the Hugh Hefner of the Hamptons.” The secret to his success? Private-equity firms, notes Center for Economic and Policy Research economist Eileen Appelbaum, plunder assets from the companies they buy, them send them into bankruptcy to sidestep pension obligations. Over the past decade alone, Sun Capital has bankrupted five firms and left their pension funds $280 million short. Leder, for his part, claims that the “vast majority” of Sun Capital deals have been successful. And he only parties hearty, the private-equity kingpin adds, 25 nights a year.
GREED AT A GLANCE
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TOO MUCH
Prices, Plutocrats, and Corporate Concentration
Prices tend to rise, mainstream economists acknowledge, when a few large corporations start to dominate an economic sector. But that doesn’t much matter, they go on to argue, because those same higher prices translate into higher returns for corporate shareholders, a group that includes millions of average families. This nonchalance about the impact of monopolies, an important new study counters, obscures just who really owns Corporate America. In fact, as one analysis of this new research points out, low- and middle-class families pay dearly when corporate monopolies drive prices higher. Only wealthy families profit. Inequality.org co-editor Sam Pizzigati, author of The Case for a Maximum Wage, has more.
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MUST READS
This week on Inequality.org 

Craig Dube, Doctors Strike in Zimbabwe as Government Imposes Austerity to Attract More Chinese Investment. In the post-Mugabe era, the new regime sees itself as worthy of a bigger piece of the Chinese pie.

Manuel Perez-Rocha, AMLO Goes Full Throttle Against Neoliberalism — But What About NAFTA? Mexico’s first left-wing president gave a fiery inaugural speech against neoliberalism in Mexico. But he barely mentioned NAFTA.

Negin Owliaei, Paul Ryan Only Ever Cared About the Rich. The former House speaker, once celebrated as a “serious” wonk, practiced a politics of cruelty.

Bob Lord, Innovation Used to Benefit Workers. Can It Again? Machines can make jobs better, but a tiny class of bosses uses them to make jobs disappear. It doesn't have to be this way.

Elsewhere on the web 

Meagan Day, You Don’t Want Hygge. You Want Social Democracy. Jacobin. What does greater equality bring? The Danes have a word for the benefits of a more egalitarian existence.

Anthony DiMaggio, Research Shows Affluent Americans Barely Recognize US Income Gap, Truthout. Affluent Americans have built an elaborate ideological defense centered on the importance of consumerism.

David Klion, The 1 Percent Keep Their Friends Close, Foreign Policy. Politicians who dance at billionaire weddings send the wrong messages.

Rachel Cohen, Could Expanding Employee Ownership Be the Next Big Economic Policy? Intercept. Advocates see employee ownership a key means to transfer wealth to the middle class.

David Atkins, The United States Didn’t Lose the Cold War. Racist Plutocrats Won It. Washington Monthly. American insistence on total privatization threw Russia into the arms of an ethnonationalist right-wing dictator. Then that dictator used his influence to put a would-be right-wing ethnonationalist dictator in charge of America itself.

Paul Krugman, The Trump Tax Cut: Even Worse Than You’ve Heard, New York Times. The tax cut for the rich and the corporations they run enacted one year ago has left 90 percent of Americans poorer.

Steven Pearlstein, The $786 million question: Does Steve Schwarzman — or anyone — deserve to make that much? Washington Post. A demolition of the rationale for outrageously high executive “earnings.”

A FINAL FIGURE
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