Wednesday, December 6

The 2% Dis-Solution

A frame to think about the US's influence in the greater scheme of things. Among Americans, wealth is distributed about as unequally as it is around the globe. The NY Times said the study below cited data from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which found that the richest 1 percent of Americans held 32 percent of the nation’s wealth in 2001. (This excludes the billionaires in the Forbes list, who control roughly another 2 percent of the nation’s wealth.)- Gark

From the Toronto Star

Richest 2% of adults hold more than half of global household wealth, data reveals
Dec. 6, 2006. 07:51

There's fierce debate about whether the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. But a pioneering study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research leaves no doubt the tiny fraction of the planet's population who are living in affluence own more than half of its wealth.

"The richest 2 per cent of adults in the world own more than half of global household wealth," says a study released yesterday by the Helsinki-based institute, a division of the United Nations University. "And the richest 1 per cent alone owned 40 per cent of global assets in the year 2000."

Some 37 million people worldwide have reached the top rung of the ladder, owning $500,000 (U.S.) in assets, after debts have been deducted.

"What's special about this project is that it puts personal assets into a global perspective," says University of Western Ontario economist James Davies, one of the authors. "It looks at the role of household assets and debts in relation to growth, and for the first time shows what the global distribution of assets looks like."

The study outlines the economic comfort — and discomfort — zone of people and countries by defining wealth as net worth: "the value of physical and financial assets less debts." And it says, "in this respect, wealth represents the ownership of capital."

Although the world's income gap has been amply confirmed, the gap in wealth is even more dramatic. "Half the world has net worth per adult below $2,200," Davies says.


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