BUZ LIVINGSTON: Uneven recovery vexes nation

Published: Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 09:51 AM.

Some of us can remember Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

Debate Scott-Heron’s poetic symbolism if you like (hint — television was a metaphor), but there’s little dispute that the economic recovery has not been homogenized. The fruits of our post-2009 rebound have been concentrated in the upper end.  From 2009-2011, the 8 million households with net worth exceeding $835,000 saw their aggregate wealth increase roughly $5.5 trillion while 111 million households not making the cut had an aggregate decline of over a half trillion dollars.  

The Pew Research Center analyzed census data and found the top 7 percent of households’ mean net worth grew by 28 percent from 2009-2011. Conversely, the bottom 93 percent saw their net worth slide 4 percent.  Wealthier Americans benefitted from a booming stock and bond market while housing values have lagged.

Yes real estate has gained some strength but the recovery has been restricted to certain pockets like South Walton or particular types like commercial and farmland. These wide variances directly relate to demographic reality that affluent households have more financial holdings while less affluent households have more wealth concentrated in the value of their home. 

Compare the S&P/Case-Shiller index, a rough measure of overall residential homes prices, still below its 2006 peak versus the S&P 500 eclipsing its pre-Great Recession peak. 

While wealthier people own more stocks, tax rules help make venture capital/hedge fund managers wealthy. A married couple whose taxable income exceeds $72,500 pays a higher tax rate (25 percent) than the “carried interest exclusion” (20 percent) available to the financial gentry. 

For single taxpayers, the 25 percent rate kicks in at $36,250. At least rappers like Jay Z speak the truth, “Some days I feel like I’m gettin’ away with murder." 

1 2 3

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top

Local Faves