October 1, 2009
According to Forbes:
America’s super rich are getting poorer. For only the fifth time since 1982, the collective net worth of The Forbes 400, our annual tally of the nation’s richest people, has declined, falling $300 billion in the past 12 months from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion.
Faltering capital markets and real estate prices, along with divorce and fraud, pushed the fortunes of 314 members down and drove 32 plutocrats off the rankings.
Click here to view the complete list.
September 22, 2009
For a complete list of countries by meat consumption, dating back to 1961, click here.
September 12, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal:
The deepest downturn in the U.S. economy since the Great Depression may finally shrink the gap between the very best-off Americans and everyone else.
If so, it won’t be by lifting up the bottom. It will be by pulling down the top.
Over the past 30 years, chief executives, Wall Street bankers and traders, law-firm partners and such amassed ever-greater incomes, while the incomes of factory workers, teachers, office managers and others in the middle grew much more slowly. In 2007, the top 1% of U.S. families accounted for 23.5% of all personal income in the U.S., according to economists Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics. That was a level not seen since the Roaring Twenties.
The top 1%’s share appears to be falling fast. Mr. Saez and other economists expect income going to the top 1% of taxpayers — currently, those with about $400,000 a year — will drop to somewhere between 15% and 19% of all income by 2010. That still would leave income distribution more top-heavy in the U.S. than in many other countries.
September 6, 2009
Earlier this week, The Economist released a report card on “child welfare in rich countries.” The report points out that governments often believe that the path to societal happiness lies with increased spending on the welfare of children. But according to an OECD report, this has not been the case. OECD researchers ranked countries based on six categories: material well-being, housing and environment, educational well-being, health and safety, risky behavior and quality of school life. According to the report, “Government spending per child varies a lot, as do outcomes; but the correlation is not strong.”
According to The Economist,
No country gets it all right, though some, like the Nordic ones, do better in general than others, notably America. America spends more than the average of $126,000 per child (excluding health) but its children fare worse than their European peers in areas like health, education and living standard, in part because the poorest American children are considerably more likely than are their European counterparts to stay poor.
August 23, 2009
Steve Horwitz from the Austrian Economists blog writes:
While looking for something else, I stumbled across this Census report on household income from 2006. What’s really interesting is to look at the percentage of households in each income category and how that’s changed over time. If the prophets of doom and decline and rising inequality are right, we would expect to see, I’d think, lots more rich households and lots more poor ones as the supposed gap widens. Some prophets of doom might expect to see fewer households in the upper brackets as the highest income categories are dominated by a few people getting very, very rich.
The reality, as it turns out, is different. From 1980 to 2006, the percentage of US households earning $100,000 or more (in constant 2006 dollars) grew from 8.6% to 19.1%. The percentage between $75k and $100K grew from 10.3 to 11.3 percent. At the other end, the percentage under $15K fell from 16.6% to 13.4% and the percentage between $15K and $34K fell from 26.2% to 23.3%. Thus all three categories below $35K fell a total of 6.1 percentage points.
The middle classes fell too, though by less. The sum total across the $35K to $75K categories fell by 5.4 percentage points. In other words: the net movement of households was an 11.5 percentage point gain in households above $75K and a net reduction of 11.5 percentage points in houses below $75K. So the percentage above $75K rose from 18.9% to 30.4%. That is, it increased by over 50%.
Let me repeat that: over 30% of US households in 2006 earned above $75K compared to under 20% in 1980. Over the same period, the percentage of US households earning under $35K fell from 42.8% to 36.7%. Fewer households are poor, fewer are middle class, and a hunk more are above $75K. (And in case you were wondering, those general trends hold for black and hispanic households too – with the percentage of black households under $35K falling by 10.9 percentage points and the number above $75K increasing by 8.9 percentage points, for example.)
Throw on top of this the fact that most everything people buy costs less in real terms and you have a recipe for increasing wealth across the board. Not bad for what so many people claim is 30 years of stagnation.
Update: Click here to read our interview with Steve Horwitz.