World Socialist Website - October 9, 2020

The ever-growing concentration of wealth at the top of the population weighs like a malignant tumor over society. No social problem, whether it be inequality, global warming, education, health care, retirement or the pandemic, can be solved without mobilizing these vast fortunes at the top and placing them under the democratic control of the broad majority of the population.

In the second quarter of 2020, the bottom 50 percent of households—some 165 million people—held $2.08 trillion, or $12,600 per person, while the richest one percent of the population controlled $34.2 trillion, i.e., over $10.4 million per person. In percentile terms, the top one percent of the population held 30.5 percent of all wealth, while the bottom 50 percent controlled only 1.9 percent.

According to a Bloomberg analysis of the data, the richest 50 Americans now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. The increased concentration of wealth at the top in the course of 2020 is the result of the unprecedented injection of money into the stock market by the Fed, which has led to an explosive growth in the fortunes of moguls such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Tesla chief Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The divide in wealth appears even more gigantic when one looks at the top 10 percent of the population as a whole. Combined, the top one percent and next nine percent held 69 percent of the nation’s wealth at the end of the second quarter of 2020, a total of $77.32 trillion.

Between the first and second quarter of 2020, the top one percent of the population increased its share of the country’s wealth from 30 percent to 30.5 percent. The biggest losers were those in the 50 to 90 percentile range of wealth holders, who saw their overall share shrink from 29.7 percent to 29.1 percent. The 90 to 99 percentile and the bottom half remained largely unchanged.

While these changes may appear slight, they actually represent a substantial shift in a short period of time. The top one percent of the population substantially increased its share of the country’s wealth as the Fed effectively printed over $3 trillion and injected it into the financial markets. Better-off sections of workers, who, unlike the bottom half of the working class, have some level of savings, retirement funds or other assets, saw their wealth share decline, as they were forced to draw on savings amidst the global downturn. ...
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