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IPFS News Link • Economy - Economics USA

The Rising Tide Which Lifted All the Yachts

•, By David Stockman

As we have  seen,  The  Donald's economic policy  actions and nostrums were  thoroughly wrong-headed and  counterpro- ductive. But   the  opposite  assumption—that market capitalism was  working according to the  texts   penned by  Adam  Smith— was also  dead wrong and  had  been  for decades. Today's bailout- ridden crony capitalism is not  remotely the  real  thing, and  that's especially because free markets can't function efficiently and  pro- ductively when  they  are flooded with  cheap credit printed by the central bank.

The  ill effects  of these  perversions are  legion, but  one  of the most  obnoxious is the  massive  financial windfall to  a tiny  elite of the  wealthy and  a concomitant depletion of the  middle class. Ironically, The Donald was  elected and  heralded by  the  latter, but   his  policies did  absolutely nothing to  change the  system's long-standing windfalls to the rich.

Here is but  one of the smoking guns that can be offered in evi- dence. To wit, in 1989 the collective net worth of the top  1 percent of households weighed in at $4.8 trillion, which  was 6.2x the $775 billion net worth of the  bottom 50 percent of households. By Q1 2022, however, those figures were  $45 trillion versus  $3.7 trillion, meaning that the wealth differential was now 12.2x.

In round numbers, therefore, the top  1 percent gained $40 tril- lion of wealth over  that thirty-three-year period compared to  the mere  $3 trillion gain  of the  bottom 50 percent. Stated differently, there are currently 65 million households in  the  bottom 50 per- cent,  which  have  an average net  worth of just  $56,000. This com- pares to  the  1.2  million households in  the  top  1 percent which currently sport an average net worth of $38,000,000.

Needless to say, there is no reason to believe that left to its own devices  free  market capitalism would generate this  680:1 wealth differential per  household. Indeed, three decades ago—and well before the  Fed went  into  money-printing  overdrive—the per household wealth differential between the  top  1 percent and  the bottom 50 percent was barely half of today's level.