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Household Wealth - 10/8/14

The Federal Reserve recently reported that since the year 2000, household wealth in the U.S. has expanded by $37 trillion, from about $44 trillion to $81 trillion. That represents a massive increase in wealth, and yet, most people aren’t wealthier. 

A September bulletin released by the Federal Reserve indicates that the share of national wealth has expanded for the top 3 percent of income earners, stayed the same for the next 7 percent, and declined for the bottom 90%.  Not only has the wealth of the very rich has doubled since 2000, but corporate revenues are at record levels.  According to Goldman Sachs, in 2013, corporate profits rose 5 times faster than wages. 

Here’s some additional history – until about 1999, median household income expanded in tandem with economic growth according to Columbia University Professor Thomas Edsall.  Since that time, median household income has not kept pace with economic growth as income gains have become concentrated among already wealthy families.  The question becomes what do we do about this if anything?  One school of thought advocates higher marginal income tax rates of the wealthy to help redistribute wealth.  Another places relatively more emphasis on expanding funding and access for education and training.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.