Thomas Piketty was wrong. It's much, much worse.

Four years ago, Thomas Piketty wrote a book with a damning conclusion.

As a general rule wealth grows faster than economic output, he explains, a concept he captures in the expression r > g (where r is the rate of return to wealth and g is the economic growth rate).

Since then capitalist zealots have been trying to find faults with his theory/data. They've largely failed.

inequality22.jpeg

What no one has done is to expand on Piketty's work. Until now.

After compiling this first-of-its-kind data set, Jordà's team makes a startling conclusion: If anything, Piketty's book underestimates the historical rate of return on wealth. “The same fact reported [by Piketty] holds true for more countries and more years, and more dramatically,” the researchers conclude.

Wealth accumulates faster — much faster — than economies can keep up. If this is true, it means that in coming years, wealth inequality could grow even faster than Piketty feared.

The gap between wealth accumulation and economic growth has been a constant feature of the world's most advanced economies for nearly the entire period from 1870 to 2015, the researchers found. They compiled a database of the annual rate of return on four major types of wealth: government bonds, treasury bills, stocks and residential real estate.

Their key contribution relates to that last piece: real estate

A record 30% of all U.S. households had either zero or negative net worth, when home values weren't factored in.
rent-burden.png

Housing is the largest expense for working class households, so when you think about it Jordà's conclusions are logical and expected.
So what does wealth inequality in real estate look like? It looks like this.

In San Francisco, desperate renters are finding their real-estate bliss in converted living rooms that lease for as little as $1,125 a month. Because elbow room is an overrated amenity.

HomeShare is a startup that leases apartments in expensive new buildings and splices them into additional units, so more tenants can split the rent for less per person. A two-bedroom becomes fit for three after HomeShare installs an upholstered partition in the den.
...
Jeff Pang, founder and CEO of HomeShare, declined to share more specific user numbers but said the company has received 30,000 applications in the Bay Area alone since 2016.

It also looks like this.

The U.S. homeless population is growing for the first time since the recession ended in 2010, a phenomenon that's especially acute in expensive cities such as San Francisco.
Ellen James-Penney, an English professor at San Jose State University, told CBS News housing costs eat up three-quarters of her monthly income. Her solution was to live in her car, she said.

burden-map.png

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The outbreak and nature of the unrest have taken many analysts of Iranian politics by surprise. Rather than emerging from liberal Tehran, these protests appear to have originated in working-class conservative cities and towns that the Islamic Republic likes to depict as its core constituency. One group of people, however, has long expected such an outbreak of discontent from the economically disadvantaged people in these areas: Iranian labor activists.

“Working people in Iran have been dreaming of a better life for four decades, but today ordinary people often have to work two or three jobs simply to survive,” says Mehdi Kouhestaninejad, a longtime Iranian trade unionist now living in Canada, who is active in the international solidarity movement for workers’ rights in Iran. “Many people inside and outside Iran may be shocked by what is going on, but trade unionists have been warning for the past 10 years that there will be an uprising against the ruling class and their kleptocracy.”

Unlike the 2009 Green Movement, which was largely a product of the educated, urban Tehrani middle class, the recent protests in Iran appear to reflect the anger of the country’s working-class masses. As Iranians grapple with high inflation, unemployment, and economic corruption, the burden of these problems has fallen most heavily on young people who lack the political connections to survive, let alone raise their standard of living.

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Meteor Man's picture

Global Inequality is killing capitalism.

There can be absolutely no doubt or question that without drastic and fundamental institutuonal changes capitalism is committing economic suicide.

It was crystal clear last August when I wrote this post:

Stiglitz and Piketty and Saez, Oh my!

Make no doubt about it. The economic game is over and done with. Stiglitz and Piketty and Saez are like the Holy Trinity of economics. You can try arguing with one or the other, but all get three together and even God her ownself will simply add "What they said!"

https://caucus99percent.com/content/stiglitz-and-piketty-and-saez

The question I have is whether all of the global economic PTB are so stupid and blinded by hubris that they can't see the writing on the economic wall or they think they will ride out the storm in their royalist bitcoin fantasy land.

I have reposted this link at the bottom of my Stiglitz, Piketty and Saez and cannot see any other solution to reversing inequality than the Democratic Socialism solutions at The Next System:

https://thenextsystem.org/inequality

Maybe all of the global economic elites are as stupid as Trump and Grover Norquist. I have to wonder what the trickle down experts at The Heritage Foundation, CATO, WSJ and other right wing "brain trust" organizations are thinking.

I did a Bing search and found a recent entry from The Brookings Institute:

Inequality endangers the fabric of our societies, distorts the functioning of democracy, and derails the globalization process. Yet, it has only recently been recognized as a problem worth examining. Why has this issue been neglected for so long?

The answer will be revealed for only $14.95:

www.brookings.edu/book/inequality-a-short-history/

Someone here at c99p recently posted an analysis by Matt Stoller at The Roosevelt Institute about the related problem of monopoly power, which is a clear contributing factor. Do global capitalists really want to destroy capitalism? It is certainly starting to look like it.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Lily O Lady's picture

@Meteor Man

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady @Lily O Lady

Good point! TPTB kill off the economy, own everything, and have the entire population desperate to work for food. Then those they hire to guard them wonder 'WTF???!!!', kill their masters and take over, endlessly rinse, repeat, until doomsday - all with no need for data-dots to change accounts! Truly a cashless society!

Edited because I didn't press a letter hard enough... might be getting a new, used keyboard from my brother, though! Need something positive to focus on, with Youtube down... no music, and I hope that this isn't to clean off all of the 'RUSSIAN!!!' independent news/political videos worth watching on there...

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

When you think about it, Land is the great devourer of opportunity and hence in many ways, innovation when we give it preferential treatment that taxes it below it's opportunity cost (while we then draw taxation from other sources like sales/payroll). Social mobility isn't merely about the condition of the individual but what could that individual have done to create positive effects on society. Of course, that isn't to say the existing owners don't have that same capacity to create (with their subsidized additional opportunity), but I find that it largely seems to get squandered in aggregate with simple consumption (individuals) and monopolistic behavior (companies).

This is the chart you're looking for.
ONS_UK_Wealth.png

https://www.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/time-call-housing-crisis-real...

That of course doesn't even get into the ~18 year boom bust land cycle and the damage it does overall.

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Lookout's picture

Or is it all moot because climate chaos is locked in and extinction arrives first?

I thought this was interesting and managed to take a screenshot from the Keiser report after repeatedly trying to find it on themaven.net It illustrates our trade deficit after we went off the gold standard...

gold standard.png

Meteor man suggested bitcoin is a royalist plot in his comment above, but seems to me it is a non-nationalistic currency. Given the impending collapse I can understand why people are buying them as security. I do watch Max (head bitcoin cheerleader) occasionally and may have been influenced by his views.

Thanks for the Piketty update...he is even more correct than we thought. So was Marx.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Meteor Man's picture

@Lookout
Morning Lookout. Here's one critical article about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general:

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/david-korten/76993/what-bitcoin-and-amaz...

And the energy consumption demands of Bitcoin mining:

http://www.newsweek.com/bitcoin-mining-track-consume-worlds-energy-2020-...

It doesn't look sustainable.

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

Lookout's picture

@Meteor Man

because it is beyond their control. That's what makes me think it is a good idea.

However, I don't own any. Each to their own (investments?).

All the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

boriscleto's picture

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" In the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry, and is generally considered to have been a bad move. -- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy "

https://youpic.com/photographer/boriscleto/

Story of my life, you cannot "beat the house", or the family you're born with/out.

“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.” --Homer Simpson, a cartoon.
"Life's hard, and then you die." --My parents, both dead before age 60.

I have been paying near 51% of income on rent since I sold my house in 2000, could not tolerate land lording for Bush's ownership society. Therapists say I self-destructed.

Sheesh I'm a goner. Every day I check the mailbox for an eviction notice, because why not it is coming. And there is nowhere to go, I haven't any money left. I have become "one of those people", a spinster society gives no shits for, discarded to charity. The D-Value "Year of the Woman" retread from '92 does not resonate, not at all. I really don't want to be subsidized like a corporation either. Oh well.

--- RIP Stephen "Song" Sherdan ---
Stephen ‘Song’ Sheridan, 65, was a fixture at Santa Rosa’s Doyle Park

On Thursday, deputies identified him as the person found dead in the Baker Avenue Denny’s bathroom by an employee.

It dawned on Cloak how little she really knew about the white-bearded man who befriended her about a decade ago.

“His role in our lives was so constant and yet so incidental,” Cloak said. “I think he meant a lot to a lot of people.”

Worldwide epiphany
Looking at http://londonhomeless.org/facts/, I'd like to see California data presented more accurately:

Reasons for homelessness
...
37% – Parents, family, or friends no longer willing or able to accommodate
20% – Loss of private dwelling, including tied accommodation
19% – Breakdown of relationship with partner
4% – Mortgage arrears
2% – Rent arrears
18% – other
The longer term causes of homelessness in England have been examined by a number of research studies. These suggest that both personal factors (e.g. addictions) and structural factors (e.g. poverty) are responsible for homelessness. A number of different pathways into homelessness have been identified. . There are additional factors that appear to be causes of homelessness among young people, most notably needing to face the responsibilities of independent living before they are ready for them.

But no. Instead, every article, study, and program targets addiction first, to say drugs are the cause. Not greed, not broken families, not AI software installed everywhere. Don't look behind the curtain.

ignorance was bliss

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Lookout's picture

@eyo

Have you thought about moving to another state where your money (little though it may be) will go farther? The reason I ask is my friend's sister recently moved from San Fran (where she was struggling financially) to B'ham and she has been shocked at how inexpensive it is to live here. Now talk about having to put up with a bullshit state gov't ...that's the case here. Anyway relocation might be a thought...not to AL but some other cheaper locale since CA is soooo expensive.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout I already surrendered to everything, but thanks for the offered solutions, thank you for being kind.

[deleted a paragraph listing all the ways I gave up last year because zzzz, it is boring going over the same broken dreams and unmet expectations.]

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."

Freedom is noisy too I guess. lol
sh sh sh
peace

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@eyo

Sending rather useless hugs and best wishes for a last-minute miracle....

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@Ellen North thanks a lot. Virtual hugs are dope. lol "We're doomed."

Remember the "free hugs" meme? I always wanted to do that. While I'm confessing weird stuff, I like flash mobs too. Yesterday morning I was going to first post Oprah 2020 under the "Snicker" essay, LMAO. Billionaire talk show host for president why not. "But today's gonna be a good good day" --Black Eyed Peas (on Her2's Birthday in Chicago) Imagine the inauguration.

"That does it, I'm outta here!" Door slam! clomp clomp clomp -- Homer Simpson's brain

Thank you very much.

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just half of this powerful film about a formerly homeless man who has become an activist working to help homeless people, his life and his work. I highly recommend it. @home:

http://athomedocumentary.org/

Of course it leaves you solidly understanding that housing is a human right, that health care is a human right, and ultimately, for me, that work is a human right.

Again, as with covert wars and covert war spending, how do we stop the abuse of humanity and the wanton partying on the part of the wealthy inebriates in our government? How do we stop the slaughter and get to peace and well-being? The Nordic countries got there after being devastated by WWII, an unspeakable catastrophe of mass murder. We don't want to get there that way. There has to be a better way, legal, non-violent, assertive and effective.

Ranting aside, I hope gjohnsit's essays on the economic realities of our batshit crazy system get us closer to seeing a way to peace. Housing has become another racket run by ghouls with no concern for human beings.

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Meteor Man's picture

I'll just drop this story from Buzzfeed off here:

The super-rich, on the other hand, are well aware of the devastation they've left in their wake, and so they're taking no chances, isolating themselves with underground survival bunkers with 9-foot walls and bullet-resistant doors and sniper posts and trip sensors and pepper spray detonators and geothermal power units and anti-chemical air filters and infrared surveillance devices, all of which may sustain life for a few years.

Inequality's Final Act

In his book "The Great Leveler", Walter Scheidel documents the ultimate destinies of desperately unequal societies throughout history, and they're not pretty: wars, revolutions, state collapses, and catastrophic plagues. Says the author about the inevitable equalizing forces, "they shared one common root: massive and violent disruptions of the established order."

Even if the super-rich survive for a while in their bunkers, they may walk out into a world that can no longer keep them alive.

http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/how-inequality-is-killing-...

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"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

@Meteor Man
they will no longer be sponging off the rest of us, so i'm happy to leave them there to enjoy such luxuries as they can sustain without ongoing contributions from outside. i don't want to kill them, i just want to stop paying them.

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Sigh

snoopydawg's picture

@Meteor Man

their mess I have a good idea to keep that from happening. We build some portable EMP devices and just as they board their planes we hit them with it. Fry their electronics and make them face the music with us.

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Self-censorship actually silences exponentially more anti-establishment opinions. For every one voice you crack down on overtly, a thousand more silence themselves out of self-preservation

@snoopydawg

I like your thinking! Not that they'd make it to their bunkers in time anyway/

I suppose that's why Obama pulled a Bush in using some archaic and innappropriate law to decide that the internet would be shut down in the event of disasters, not only to limit information to propaganda stations and to prevent people from receiving warnings in time to try to save themselves/each other from whatever (I'm thinking likely planned False Flags,) but to try to prevent reception crowds building up near those NZ bunkers so many among the wealthiest have acquired.

Also acted as a reminder of something that the recycled Bush Dem-hero once said:

https://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1870938_...

Your Own Worst Enemy?

At a signing ceremony for a defense-spending bill on Aug. 5, 2004, Bush gave an unintentionally ominous progress report on the war on terror. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful," he said, "And so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people," he continued, "And neither do we." Even more disturbing is the fact that he was reading from prepared text. At least he wasn't on a golf course when he delivered the remarks.

And:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/bushisms/2009/01/ws_grea...

The 43rd president's accidental wit and wisdom.
Jan. 12 2009 3:43 PM
W.'s Greatest Hits
The top 25 Bushisms of all time.
By Jacob Weisberg

... 25. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008

Slate V: The Best of Video Bushisms

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1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Using the GDP in 1967 I scaled it up to today using the growth in median family income and the growth in population and this is what I got:

US GDP in 1967 = 4.40 Trillion, adjusted for inflation
Median Family real Income growth 1967 to 2017 = 33%
US Population 1967 198.7 Million
US Population 2017 325.3 Million

Therefore:
Real People's GDP 2017 = $9.6 Trillion
US total GDP as reported for 2017 = $19.5 Trillion

In other words, you have been thoroughly screwed.

Another way to look at it, you could now have two times more income per median family than your parents in 1967 if the people got the same share of the total GDP as they did in 1967.

I think that the situation is even worse that this, as it is much more expensive to raise a family today than it was with a single wage earner in 1967. In other words real family cost of living inflation is much worse than Federal figures, i.e. they lie. (What a shock) Next time the MSM on TV reports a GDP growth of X percent be sure to shout out "Fuck Yo*". I really think that there is an organized plan to keep the people poor and desperate so that they are obedient tools and cannon fodder for corporate America. They have succeeded in keeping GDP growth out of the hands of the people.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

@The Wizard

I really think that there is an organized plan to keep the people poor and desperate so that they are obedient tools and cannon fodder for corporate America.

Reality has a socialist bias.

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Daenerys's picture

@The Wizard each family was out at least $40,000 since the recession hit. I'm sure it's more than that by now. Shit, I could have had a new car twice over for that (the Mazda3 that I want, which costs usually under 20k)! Or money in savings, or a good place to live, or.... *RAGE*

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This shit is bananas.

many reasons for the shift in our standard of living. One that has always interested me was addressed by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi in their 2003 book, The Two-Income Trap, Why Middle Class Parents Are Going Broke.

Warren and Tyagi show that the average American household that had one wage-earner and a stay-at-home parent to care for their children was financially more stable and less indebted than the average 2-income family is now.

I see this as a robotic machine-like development. Because the pill changed everything, people could work at 2 full time jobs before having children. In that process they raised the value of housing and everything else a family lives on to a point at which a 1-income family could not compete. Throw in the credit card and absurd interest rates, and suddenly the 2-income, hard working couple with children became a debt machine, running on a treadmill of stress. Add in the divorce rate, no doubt compounded by the debt mill, and the average child in the United States qualifies for the free lunch program, meaning over half of our children are near poverty.

Again, we have an inhumane economic and financial system. But as human beings, we also have a tendency to take advantage of things like the pill, or the credit card, in order to survive in the face of whatever pressure exists at any given moment.

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@Linda Wood

Was that due to people raising the value of housing and everything else by both partners working longer for 'extra' cash, or the result of wages effectively falling over decades to impoverish the majority through attrition enriching the relative and shrinking few, coupled with the actions of banksters/Well St., hedge funders and other speculators all doing the same sort of draining?

Wealth now heavily concentrated among a dwindling few was incrementally drained out of citizens, the public purse, and the 'cost-cuttingly' poisoned resources of the Earth, while the US Federal Reserve manipulated as it pleased to suit its own private interests, and I was under the impression that it was such actions as these which resulted in more people having to work longer for less money, while the actual economy shrank with that shrivelling of the majority of people's incomes and ability to make purchases, resulting in many having to use credit for expenses/emergencies for which they no longer had savings to use for such things?

There was a video with Federal Reserve heads joking about working to increase poverty, which I expect we've all seen; can't post it with Youtube down*, though. It didn't even come up with those search terms, so I hope such videos aren't being/haven't been removed from Youtube/the interwebz... but I personally, (while admittedly speaking as One Who Knows Nothing,) wouldn't be looking at women entering the workforce in larger numbers as any main source of blame for wages not keeping pace with productivity gains in conjunction with the myriad rip-offs by The Psychopaths That Be designed to produce this radically accelerating 'disaster-capitalized' state of affairs, at least, in my estimation, (based on what comparatively little I can recall reading, as opposed to many far better informed - and highly informative - on this site).

*The youtube site itself seems to be up, but nothing loads for me and it seems that I'm not alone in this by a long shot. Full loading just came back up and I still can't find the right video; hope it's just my search terms or the fact that I've used up my searching energy to go far enough back...)

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1 user has voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.