EDITOR NOTE: In 2008, we all felt the pain--whether we were rich or poor. The top 1%, whose wealth remained largely intact, sustained a deep bruising, though nothing significantly debilitating. Flash forward to the present day. The pandemic has ravaged the global economy, threatening to take it far below what we saw in 2008. Millions of jobs were lost. Millions of lives worldwide were lost. And the virus has mutated, threatening a reprise. Meanwhile, the wealth gap became more obvious as millionaires across the globe multiplied from 5 million to 56 million. The 1% saw not declines nor preservation but expansion in their wealth by 45%. The stock market in the US is skyrocketing. The wealth divide is well entrenched. Are we to blame the central banks like the Federal Reserve for this? Who else has the power to convert a semi-naturally functioning global economy into a completely unnatural inversion of itself?
The global financial crisis of 2007-09 was socially divisive as well as economically destructive. It inspired a resentful backlash, exemplified by America’s Tea Party. That crisis at least had the tact to spread financial pain across the rich as well as the poor, however. The share of global wealth held by the top “one percent” actually fell in 2008. The pandemic has been different. Amid all the misery and mortality, the number of millionaires rose last year by 5.2m to over 56m, according to the Global Wealth Report published by Credit Suisse, a bank. The one percent increased their share of wealth to 45%, a percentage point higher than in 2019.
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