Wealth And The New Family Stagnation

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DDThe Federal Reserve Bank’s focus on macro-economic growth as measured by its almost singular obsession with metrics for employment, output, lending rates, and inflation ignores a very basic flaw and a potential crippling weakness in America’s political economy–the increasing disparate difference (collectively and individually) between wage earners and the wealthy. The widening gap will create structural issues beyond the Fed’s capacity to fix, but the Fed does have the responsibility to research, study, and warn the nation, both rich and poor, of the ominous problems that will stall future prosperity, especially in family investment, retirement income, and business wages, if the trend continues along its historic highs.

The rising/widening trend is bringing many important changes: for one, more companies are replacing public funding (market shares) with private equity, making future growth and wealth inaccessible for a broad base of families. The ways in which wealth is shared with families is shrinking. Even mutual funds and other investment vehicles have their returns swamped by the multiplier size of the management fees collected across the accounts; families earn thousands, sometimes hundreds annually, firms earn billions for managing, producing no more than average returns.

In classic contradiction–economics is often about negative effects–capital, now excess, is now producing waste: stripped mountaintops, fished-out oceans, workers without benefits or security, depending on govt safety nets, are themselves being cut–to increase capital excess!

The ugly cycle stampeding greater wealth (not broad growth!) shadows a host of problems bigger than re-balancing social security or seeing through Republican rhetoric of coupons for healthcare rationing being “choice.”

We are entering an era in which the problems of wealth will have negative consequences beyond issues of poverty, and already are carving out new powers and privileges in their disruption.

Migrant Pay-line. Marion Post Wolcott photo. 1938.

Migrant Pay-line. Marion Post Wolcott photo. 1938.