Astonishingly fast. Here’s what’s been happening in the UK:
Collective wealth of the UK’s 1000 richest people
1997 = £98 billion
2008 = £413 billion
2010 = £336 billion
2012 = £414 billion
2013 = £450 billion
2014 = £519 billion
Source: Sunday Times Rich List
As you can see there was a dip after the financial crash in 2008 – because much of the wealth of the super-rich is in the form of notional, paper values (bonds, shares, and other such so-called investments) that can lose or gain value very quickly – but the super-rich have bounced back, achieving a staggering 15% increase in their wealth in the last year.
In the US, between 1979 and 2012, the majority of incomes stagnated or grew very slowly, while the poorest 5th suffered a substantial loss. But meanwhile, the rich roared ahead, swallowing up most of the spoils of economic growth, with the 1% enjoying a 185% increase, and within that group, the top 0.01% pocketing a 685% rise in real income! It wasn’t always thus. In the 1949-1979 period, the incomes of the bottom 20% in the US increased by 121% while those of the top 1% increased by only 38.9%, and the top 0.01% by 29.1%.
Exam questions for the day.
- The wealth of the 85 richest people in the world equals the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population, all 3.5 billion of them. Is this a rational allocation of resources?* Explain and defend your answer. *Note: no marks will be given for mathematical elegance in answering this question.
- If the total wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK equals £519 billion and the NHS (annual cost £130bn) desperately needs another £8billion, what should we do? (Figures from The Sunday Times Rich List and the UK Office of National Statistics: http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/central_spending_2013UKbs)
- If the total wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK equals £519 billion and the UK has a deficit of £100billion, should we a) continuing borrowing from the rich and paying them interest, b) introduce a wealth tax, or c) do something else?
- Does the UK need austerity?