Inequality back at record highs

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The Washington Post
By: Ezra Klein
June 11, 2010

In 2005 and 2006 and 2007, I wrote a lot about inequality, which had reached highs not seen since the run-up to the Great Depression. After the financial crisis, I largely stopped, as I figured that the sharp crash would pretty much wipe out the build-up in wealth. And I was right, for a time. But now it's come back.

The basic story here is that assets have recovered so much more quickly than the broader economy that in 2009, "the millionaire class held a larger percentage of the country's wealth than it did in 2007." In other words, inequality has actually gotten worse. If you want to see why that's unexpected, check out the chart I cadged from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities: After the Great Depression, inequality fell and didn't recover until 2007. That's about 80 years. After the Great Recession, inequality fell and didn't recover until ... 2009? That's one year.

In part, that's attributable to the fact that this didn't turn out to be as bad as the Great Depression. But it also says something about the policies we used to respond to this crisis. In the 1930s, we did a lot to reshape the economy so it was more balanced, and so its gains were more broadly shared. That's not been a major part of our response to this crash.

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This page contains a single entry by CFED published on June 14, 2010 3:18 PM.

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