The details of wealth

The Senior Lecturer:

The Guardian reported the emergence of a new ‘gilded age’ yesterday as the concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a relatively few families reached levels not seen since the era before the First World War.

Hmm. That’s the UBS report.

The one thing it doesn’t tell us is about the concentration of wealth. Yes, it says that billionaires’ wealth rose 17% to $6 trillion. But it doesn’t tell us about concentration. We get no figure at all for the world’s total wealth. So we don’t actually know what percentage this is.

We might have a stab at it. Household wealth in the US is around $90 trillion. There’re what, about 3x the US population we might describe as rich world people? So, just to have a number, rich world household wealth is $300 trillion?

Some 1500 people have 2% – should we be worried?

Total US wealth (adding in all the Feds own etc) is more like $200 trillion. So, rich world wealth is $600 trillion. 1% in the hands of 1500 people?

I don’t insist on calling it either way here, just want to point out the bits we’re not being told.

Where I would insist on calling it out is that wealth isn’t the thing to be worrying about. Absolute income is. While we’ve still absolute poverty I really don’t care about the top. I care about the absolute poverty. Something which the current arrangements are reducing faster than any other set of actions ever have in the history of the species. Seems to me we’re doing something right therefore.

And thus we should continue doing it, globalised free market capitalism it is then.

28 thoughts on “The details of wealth”

  1. Meh.

    Bloke owns a business worth £1bn.

    So what?

    He’s not likely to have £1bn in a big pile of cash.

    That wealth could be in the form of factories, plant & machinery. Could be in the form of the output of the thousands of people the business employs, and the profit the business makes on which tax is paid.

    What would the squawkeratti of the left have him do? Sack the workers, knock down the factories and sell the bricks, dismantle the machinery and sell the scrap and then distribute the cash on a per-capita basis around the world?

  2. I would rather have a buy to let house worth 100k yielding 6k, than a buy to let house worth 200k yielding 5k.

    The incredible collapse in real-yields (thanks QE buying) has pushed up valuations but in terms of overall investors ability to consume done nothing (while one person can sell out, not everyone can sell).

    I guess one more side effect of QE is huge numbers of articles on pre-tax asset value inequality increasing. Not the most obvious metric to choose unless you have a specific agenda to push.

  3. That Murphy blog also contains this gem:

    “capital gains taxes can be avoided by simply holding on to assets”

  4. When you have the new PM of New Zealand allegedly saying that capitalism has failed, you know that the narrative is being lost.

    As Scott Adams has been demonstrating for the last 2 years, facts do not matter.

  5. The UBS report states that over 60% of billionnaires, owning over 60% of billionnaire wealth are “self-made”. So it’s not the same few families.
    Concentration has NOT increased – the amount of wealth owned by billionnaires has increassed mostly because the number of billionnaires has increased by 10% – the average per head has increased slower than the index with which UBS compares it.
    Now, for those unable or unwilling to apply simple arithmetic, ir may appear like an excuse to claim concentration has increased, but not for the rest of us.

  6. Correct, Andrew C. If Bill Gates started cashing in large chunks of MSFT stock, the price would collapse. He might get $80 per share for the first million, but he won’t get it for the second million.

  7. ‘the concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a relatively few families’

    Communist dog whistle to stir envy. How much someone else has is none of your fvcking business.

    The OPPORTUNITY to become wealthy is motivational; the BAN on becoming wealthy is fatal to enterprise.

  8. AndrewC/ Tim

    You forget he has been forced to move to far less salubrious surroundings because of the free Market capitalist system, It Is possible (although given his penchant for picking fights in empty rooms by no means a certainty) that he might be given prime real estate in Mayfair under the auspices of a Curajus state. In a Market society we know as one of the most ignorant people in the UK (Certainly among those prominent in Cyberspace) that is highly improbable. Naturally one would expect him to favour the latter.

  9. Gamecock

    Couple of points

    1/ Under the Society Murphy envisages everything is the state’s business. Privacy (certainly in financial matters) is not a right and indeed is positively injurious to the good of ‘society’

    2/ He does not recognise the concept of disincentives. Indeed he dismisses them as ‘neoliberal special pleading’ by ‘those who have too much wealth’

  10. Whilst Spud was explaining why the latest news about something or other was proof positive of impending economic disaster, someone called Terry Tibbs asked Spud what car he drove as “you can tell a lot about a man from the car he drives”

    The current SpudMobile is a Volvo V70.

    Apparently, Spud can’t see why anyone would ever buy a new car. He aims to keep a car for 10 years. Or more, if he can.

  11. Andrew C

    It’s amazing that a single man who rails against unnecessary consumption drives a fvcking great saloon when he is about 1km waddle away from a railway station. All the time proclaiming his green credentials.

    Perhaps when he had to cart a wife and kids around and lived in Downham Market there could have been some justification, but now?

  12. Don’t know about anyone else, posts here, but I despise socialists.
    If I discover someone’s a socialist, they’ll get no help from me. Far from it. They want to steal my money, I’ll have a damned good try at stealing theirs. I’ll make their life as miserable as I can. They certainly won’t be a guest in my house & i’ll avoid their company. If anyone tries preaching socialism in my presence they’ll get a mouthful of abuse.
    They regard me as their enemy. I regard them as my enemy.

    I do recommend this as a worthy attitude, should be practised more. They want to believe & spread their crap, there will be an imposed cost. There is never any reason for accommodating socialism.

  13. “Privacy (certainly in financial matters) is not a right and indeed is positively injurious to the good of ‘society’”

    True, VP. He views government as society, not separate entities.

  14. I am extremely jealous of rich people.

    I would like to steal all their money.

    This is a wonderful aspiration because I am a socialist.

    I would have to kill them to steal all their money.

    This is a wonderful aspiration because I am a socialist.

    I would then be extremely rich.

    This is a wonderful aspiration because I am a socialist.

  15. True, Slattibartfast.

    The socialist’s pitfall is that they can only do it once. They will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. So consumed with envy that they will murder.

    ‘The Guardian reported the emergence of a new ‘gilded age’ yesterday as the concentration of the world’s wealth in the hands of a relatively few families’

    See, you only have to kill a relatively few families. How much trouble could that be?

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    The number of people who believe the rich are rich because the poor are poor is getting depressingly large and there appears to be no decline in the growth.

  17. Yes, it says that billionaires’ wealth rose 17% to $6 trillion …

    In Guardian-land, total wealth is a fixed number, akin to the amount of cash in circulation. If the wealth of the top few has risen by 17%, it’s a mathematical certainty that everyone else is worse off.

    They just don’t understand the idea of a rising tide lifting all boats.

  18. Bloke in Lower Hutt

    Monoi – the new Prime Minister of New Zealand makes Spudda’s Volvo look clever. The only upside is that she got 11% less of the vote than the main opposition party who were 3 seats short of forming a government for a 4th term without a coalition (ah the joys of MMP) and won’t get any more popular now in power so will likely be a one term wonder.

    Anyway, I’m still in stitches after reading a quote from her telling us all that hiking the minimum wage to $20 an hour will be great for job creation. Maybe Spudda should look South for a job, we dish out genuine British vermine here too!

  19. Bloke in Lower Hutt – be interesting to see them increase minimum wage and it be great for job creation.

    Has it worked here?

    1999 we started using minimum wage, unemployment rate around 6%?
    Unemployment rate now, 18 years later, a bit over 4%?

    Perhaps that’s what he is basing idea of setting a minimum wage at a certain level as being great for job creation.

    While ignoring other factors.

  20. Oi, S80s are driven by people who lack the confidence to display their competence by driving an Audi.

    S90s are the way forward, comrades.

  21. Bloke in Lower Hutt

    Martin – as always it depends on the unmeasurable, how many jobs weren’t created because the value of labour wasn’t worth the hourly rate. The proposal is to raise minimum wage from $15 to $20 over three years which I can’t see being conducive to creating many new jobs.

  22. Strange that in our present free-market Paradise engineered by half arsed weirdos like Keith Joseph ( a fellow of all Souls!) and his autistic devotee ,Margaret Thatcher (rote learning of Chemistry), out of the UK’s mixed economy/ post war consensus, you find amongst your children’s friends a family on one teacher’s wage spending £800 a month in rent in deepest Gloomshire and a single person spending £1000 a month in rent in the nearby, unlovely, county town.
    Since the herald of laissez faire, Adam Smith, recognised that the State should tax land values and so prevent this out -of-control property price inflation, perhaps it is time to stop fixating on Venezuela and look among our own political traditions for staring-you-in-the-face solutions.

  23. @ Andrew M
    Not quite – what actually said was that the total wealth of group Y, which is 10% larger than group X, was 17% higher at end-2016 than that of group X was at end-2015 although the MSCI index rose 8.5% – the average wealth grrw by less thyan the index. Going into more detail gets lots of nuances but still shows Murphy is wrong.

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