Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive
wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s
income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.
Wells Fargo John Stumpf 2009 Total Compensation: $21,340,547
CITIGROUP'S LEAKED MEMO: AMERICA IS A PLUTONOMY
Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances
October 16, 2005
posit that: 1) the world is dividing into two blocs - the plutonomies, where economic
growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies
have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring
Twenties in the U.S. What are the common drivers of Plutonomy? Disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative
financial innovation, capitalist friendly cooperative governments, an international dimension of immigrants and overseas conquests
invigorating wealth creation, the rule of law, and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity,
exploited best by the rich and educated of the time. 2) We project that the plutonomies
(the U.S., UK, and Canada) will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies,
capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization. 3) Most “Global Imbalances”
(high current account deficits and low savings rates, high consumer debt levels in the Anglo-Saxon world, etc) that continue
to (unprofitably) preoccupy the world’s intelligentsia look a lot less threatening when examined through the prism of plutonomy..
Fixing these “global imbalances”
that many pundits fret about requires time travel to change relative fertility rates in the U.S. versus Japan and Continental
Europe. Why? There is compelling evidence that a key driver of current account imbalances is demographic differences
between regions. Clearly, this is tough. Or, it would require making the income distribution in the Anglo-Saxon plutonomies (the U.S., UK, and Canada) less skewed to the rich, and relatively egalitarian Europe and Japan to suddenly embrace income
inequality. Both moves would involve revolutionary tectonic shifts in politics and society. Note that we have not taken
recourse to the conventional curatives of global rebalance - the dollar needs to drop, either abruptly, or smoothly,
the Chinese need to revalue, the Europeans/Japanese need to pump domestic demand, etc. These have merit, but, in
our opinion, miss the key driver of imbalances - the select plutonomy of a few nations, the equality of others. Indeed,
it is the “unequal inequality”, or the imbalances in inequality across nations that corresponds with the
“global imbalances” that so worry some of the smartest people we know.
In a plutonomy there is no such animal as “the U.S. consumer” or “the
UK consumer”, or indeed the “Russian consumer”. There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate
in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take. There are the rest, the “non-rich”, the multitudinous
many, but only accounting for surprisingly small bites of the national pie. Consensus analyses that do not tease out
the profound impact of the plutonomy on spending power, debt loads, savings rates (and hence current account deficits),
oil price impacts etc, i.e., focus on the “average” consumer are flawed from the start.more expensive they
RIDING THE GRAVY TRAIN - WHERE ARE THE PLUTONOMIES? The U.S., UK, and Canada are world leaders in plutonomy. (While data quality in this field can be dated in emerging
markets, and less than ideal in developed markets, we have done our best to source information from the most reliable
and credible government and academic sources. There is an extensive bibliography at the end of this note). Countries
and regions that are not plutonomies: Scandinavia, France, Germany, other continental Europe (except Italy), and Japan.
THE UNITED STATES PLUTONOMY - THE GILDED AGE, THE ROARING TWENTIES,
AND THE NEW MANAGERIAL ARISTOCRACY Let’s dive into some of the details. As
Figure 1 shows the top 1% of households in the U.S., (about 1 million households)
accounted for about 20% of overall U.S. income in 2000, slightly smaller than
the share of income of the bottom 60% of households put together. That’s
about 1 million households compared with 60 million households, both with similar
slices of the income pie! Clearly, the analysis of the top 1% of U.S. households is paramount. The usual
analysis of the “average” U.S. consumer is flawed from the start. To continue with the U.S., the top 1% of
households also account for 33% of net worth, greater than the bottom 90% of households put together. It gets better (or worse, depending on your political stripe) - the top 1% of households account for 40% of financial net worth, more
than the bottom 95% of households put together. This is data for 2000, from the Survey of Consumer Finances (and adjusted
by academic Edward Wolff). Since 2000 was the peak year in equities, and the top 1% of households have a lot more
equities in their net worth than the rest of the population who tend to have more real estate, these data might exaggerate
the U.S. plutonomy a wee bit. Was the U.S. always a plutonomy - powered by the wealthy, who aggrandized larger chunks
of the economy to themselves? Not really. For those interested in the details, we recommend “Wealth and Democracy:
A Political History of the American Rich” by Kevin Phillips, Broadway Books, 2002.
MERGING BANKS/ GETTING BIGGER AND BIGGER
CITIGROUP JPMORGAN CHASE BANK OF AMERICA WELLS FARGO
Lehman executives weren't the only ones in the building when they were moving billions of dollars
in liabilities off their books at the end of each quarter with magic accounting. So were the Feds, The New York Times's
Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in his latest DealBook column.
Corruption on WALL STREET and Washington
2nd shot at financial reform still leaves loopholes - USATODAY.com
Trying to fix the broken U.S. financial system is no way to win a popularity contest. Standing
by himself, Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, on Monday announced his second attempt to plug loopholes
in financial regulation...
Ex-CEO Andrew Sullivan made somewhere between $300 million and $500 million in his last 5 years with AIG; AIG executives
went on a "retreat" costing $400,000 after AIG received federal bailout money; Joseph Cassano, head of AIG's
financial products division, received $280 million in compensation in the last 8 years.
J. P. Morgan
Goldman doesn't like $500,000 salary cap; will repay TARP mone; Received $12.9 billion (exposure) from AIG from AIG's
Merrill received $6.8 billion through AIG via AIG's bailout package
Ex-CEO Sandy Weill just took a vacation to Mexico in the corporate jet
UBS received $5.0 billion through AIG via AIG's federal
Standard & Poors
Bank of America
As ABC reported, Bank of America took its $45 billion in bailout funds and sponsored a five-day carnival outside the
Super Bowl stadium: B of A received $5.2 billion through AIG via AIG's federal
A stock analyst, Markopolos, warned the SEC numerous times that Madoff's scheme was phony; the SEC did
little or nothing
(no longer in business)
Company had scheduled a "conference" in Las Vegas - it was cancelled due to public outcry
Morgan Stanley took its $10 billion in bailout money and held a three-day conference at the Breakers in Palm Beach.
received $11.9 billion through AIG via AIG's federal bailout package
received $11.8 billion through AIG via AIG's federal bailout package
$8.5 billion through AIG via AIG's federal bailout package
received $4.9 billion through AIG via AIG's federal bailout package
received $3.5 billion through AIG via AIG's federal bailout package
received $2.6 billion through AIG via AIG's federal bailout package
"Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but
a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street and for Wall Street. ... Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals
in robes and honesty in rags. ...
There are thirty men in the United States whose aggregate wealth is over one
and one-half billion dollars. There are half a million looking for work. ... We want money, land and transportation. We want
the abolition of the National banks, and we want the power to make loans direct from the government. We want the accursed
foreclosure system wiped out. ... We will stand by our homes and stay by our firesides by force if necessary, and will not
pay our debts to the loan-shark companies until the Government pays its debts to us.
The people are at bay,
let the bloodhounds of money who have dogged us thus far beware."
Ellen Lease, who was speaking to the national convention of the populist party in Topeka, Kan., in 1890.
2007 the top 400 taxpayers had an average income of $344.8 million, up 31 percent from
their average $263.3 million income in 2006, according to figures in a report that the IRS posted to its Web site....
Their effective income tax rate fell to 16.62 percent, down more than half a percentage
point from 17.17 percent in 2006, the new data show.
Top A.I.G. Executive Quits Over Pay Limits - NYTimes.com
The business world has been rocked by one scandal after another in the past decade.
From Martha Stewart to Bernie Ebbers and Bernie Madoff, it's been a confusing and angry time for investors. The era also
saw a 777-point one-day plunge in the Dow and some 7 million job losses.
has a very bad decade.
Goldman Sachs's PR blitz
For all the complex financial products
they can dream up, simple common sense still seems to elude the bright minds of Wall Street. Or at least, Goldman Sachs CEO
Hoping to shore up his firm's battered image, he spearheaded an all-out public relations campaign
this fall, touting his company's important role in building economies and helping everyday workers prosper.
month, however, he got a bit carried away, telling a Times of London reporter that he was just a banker "doing God's
work." For $43 million a year.
France Joins Britain in Move to Curb Big Bank Bonuses - NYTimes.com
In its last days as an independent company, Merrill gave performance-based bonuses exclusively to employees earning $300,000
a year or more and holding a rank of vice president or higher, according to their financial statements. $3.62 billion was
handed out to these executives - a sum equal to 36.2 percent of the $10 billion in taxpayer funds th
Stone's Matt Taibbi pens an epic rant about AIG commodities trader Jake DeSantis' letter to the NY Times. Loosely
paraphrased, Matt's points include: 1) Jake is a liar, 2) Jake is a dumbass, 3) Jake is a greedy fuck and 4) Jake is a
worthless scrap of humanity. Not necessarily in that order.
nytimes.com —The following is
a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial
products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.
months before the start of last year's stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of
44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance
fund into stocks.
What Work Is,
Poem for the Workingman
stand in the rain in a long line waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work. You know what work is--if you're old enough to read this you know what work is, although you may not do it. Forget you. This is about waiting, shifting from one foot to another. Feeling the light rain falling like mist into your hair, blurring your vision until you think you see your own brother ahead of you, maybe ten places. You rub your glasses with your fingers, and of course it's someone else's brother, narrower across the shoulders than yours but with the same
sad slouch, the grin that does not hide the stubbornness, the sad refusal to give in to rain, to the hours
wasted waiting, to the knowledge that somewhere ahead a man is waiting who will say, "No, we're
not hiring today," for any reason he wants. You love your brother, now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother, who's not beside you or behind or ahead because he's home trying
to sleep off a miserable night shift at Cadillac so he can get up before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing Wagner, the opera you hate most, the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him you loved him, held his wide shoulders, opened your eyes wide and said
those words, and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never done something so simple, so obvious, not because
you're too young or too dumb, not because you're jealous or even mean or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no, just because you don't know what work is.
soapboxroadshow.blogspot.com —Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla) $45,900; Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) $41,375; Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) $28,200; Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz)* $28,150; Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) $27,500; Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) $20,100; Sen. John Cornyn
(R-Texas)$19,700; Sen. Charles E. Schumer $17,000 Rep. Charlie A. Gonzalez (D-Texas) $15,500; Rep. Max Sandlin
vanityfair.com —After getting $125 billion in taxpayer bailouts, the top officers at Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and three
other banks agreed to forgo their 2008 bonuses. Now they ’re awarding billions to their troops. Can government “claw
back” that money?
youtube.com — Democratic
Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio talks with FOX Business about the extent of the fraud perpetrated by the Stanford Group,
and the coming revelations about the case that may involve a conspiracy at the highest levels of government!
has gotten $130 billion in post-Katrina aid. How is it that the stars of the Republican austerity movement come from the states
that suck up the most federal money? Taxpayers in New York send way more to Washington than they get back so more can go to
places like Alaska and Louisiana.
Markopolos waged a decade-long campaign to alert regulators to problems in the operations of fallen money manager Bernard
Madoff. But, he told lawmakers on Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to act despite receiving credible
allegations of fraud.