Unprecedented interest in income inequality has sent a complex book by economist Thomas Piketty to the top of the charts at Amazon.
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” presents centuries of data on the accumulation and distribution of capital and chilling insights about the present and the future. Income inequality has been getting much worse for decades and this could just be the start.
If Piketty is right, then global politics could get antagonistic, unstable, and potentially dangerous.
Rising inequality could also hurt the economy, as Wall Street is starting to notice. As noted by Société Générale strategist Albert Edwards, “you don’t have to be a communist to conclude that high levels of inequality not only adversely affects long-term growth, but also increases the economy’s vulnerability to recession.”
We’ve gathered charts from Piketty and others that show the scale of the problem.
The top 0.1% is leaving behind the rest of the 1% -- and the top 0.01% are even more out of control.
Capital is becoming more valuable around the world, helping the rich get richer and richer -- and this trend could get much worse.
Median household income has fallen around 7% since the recession, despite the stock market roaring back to new highs.
We won't even get into racial inequality, except to note that the average white American is worth 15 times as much as the average black American.
... and many other health and social problems, including higher rates of homicide, imprisonment, teenage birth, obesity, addiction, and more.
Rising inequality is also tied to political polarization, which can lead to inefficiency and conflict.
Actual wealth distribution in America is much more unbalanced than people realise -- and much worse still than they would like.
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