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The Top One Percent - 4/5/16

By now, almost everyone is aware of the astonishing economic rise of the top one percent in America.  As indicated by a recent piece published by the Brookings Institute, the top 1 percent of U.S. residents now earn twenty one percent of total national income, up from 10 percent in nineteen seventy nine. 

Some economists, like Gregory Mankiw, argue that these elite earnings are based upon intelligence, specialized skills and valuable contributions to the economy.  A globally integrated, technologically driven economy has shifted large-scale economic opportunities to this group, allowing them to generate extremely high incomes. 

However, according to writer Jonathan Rothwell, "There is no evidence to support the idea that the top one percent consists mostly of people of exceptional talent.  In fact, there is quite a bit of evidence to the contrary."  

Rather than relying on talent, the top 1 percent is more likely to rely on a positions in society that effectively shield them from vigorous competition according to Rothwell.  One way that the top 1 percent cements their position is by occupying the financial sector and accessing above market returns on their investments.   

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.