30 August 2017

Plutonomy Series

Referencing Michael Moore's spoofamentary on capitalism – Capitalism: A Love Story. The highlight for me was the mention of the Citigroup’s 2005 macro-economic analysis report which I’ve excerpted below. This insightful, blunt, and smug analysis was obviously meant for a select high-net-worth social group. Their conclusion - “So long as economies continue to grow, there is little threat to Plutonomy.” And that is the Achilles’ heel of plutonomy – perpetual growth. This is a repeat story with ample warning.

Other mentionable moments include Reagan as a spokesman for GE and Chesterfield cigarettes, a marketing success. Also good footage of FDR's forgotten Second Bill of Rights speech and Jimmy Carter’s Crisis of Confidence speech. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur urges Americans facing foreclosure to “be squatters in your own homes”. Elizabeth Warren has her own documentary on credit card abuse - Maxed Out. Gotta love that there's a legal term called "Dead Peasants" for insurance policies that companies purchase on their employees. And then the clip of companies profiting off the prisonization of Juveniles in collusion with the Court was truly evil.

Plutocrats by Chrystia Freeland, 2012, Excerpts
The emergence of this new virtual nation of mammon is so striking that an elite team of strategists at Citicorp has advised the bank’s clients to design portfolios around the rising power of the global super-rich. In a 2005 memo they observed that “the World is dividing into two blocs – the Plutonomy and the Rest”.

Plutonomy Series

Citigroup Equity Strategy Report, 2005, Excerpts
Analysts: Ajay Kapur, Niall Macleod, & Narendra Singh
16 Oct 2005

Citigroup Disclaimer: “We should at this point make clear that we have no view on whether plutonomies are good or bad, our analysis here is based on the facts, not what we want society to look like.”

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America

US treasury secretary's wife Louise Linton apologizes for rant
23 Aug 2013
The wife of the US treasury secretary has apologized for an Instagram post in which she boasted of her wealth and belittled a commenter. The post showed Scottish-born actress Louise Linton exiting a US military plane, and was tagged with the brand names of several fashion designers. Her now-withdrawn Instagram post on Monday depicted her travels to Kentucky with her husband Steven Mnuchin.

Mexicans Are Not Happy With a ‘Vanity Fair’ Cover Featuring Melania Trump
27 Jan 2017
First Lady Melania Trump can be seen twirling a diamond necklace on the cover of Vanity Fair Mexico's February issue, just above a cover line that suggests she is "the new Jackie Kennedy." The photo first appeared in the April 2016 issue of GQ. Trump's new cover arrives as tensions between President Donald Trump and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto continue to grow. Yesterday, the two cancelled a meeting following Trump’s announcement that he was moving forward with plans to build his Mexico border wall.

Beijing overtakes New York as new 'billionaire capital'
25 Feb 2016
Beijing has overtaken New York as the city with the highest number of billionaires for the first time. A total of 100 billionaires are now living in the Chinese capital, compared with 95 in New York. Shanghai, China's center of commerce, comes in fifth place. Moscow was in third place with 66 billionaires. China has 568 billionaires after gaining 90 new ones, compared with the US which has 535. There are now 2,188 billionaires in the world, a new record.

Richest 1% to own more than rest of world, Oxfam says
19 Jan 2015

'This Week' Transcript: President Barack Obama
15 Sep 2013

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm looking at the cover of "Time" magazine this week. It says, "How Wall Street Won." 95 percent of the gains to the top 1 percent. That is so striking.

It is. And the folks in the middle and at the bottom haven't seen wage or income growth, not just over the last three, four years, but over the last 15 years. A couple of things are creating these trends. Number one, globalization. Capital, companies, they can move businesses and jobs anywhere they want. And so they're looking for the lowest wages. That squeezes workers here in the United States, even if corporations are profitable.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's bigger than Washington.

OBAMA: Right.

US income inequality at record high
10 Sep 2013
The income gap between the richest 1% of Americans and the other 99% widened to a record margin in 2012, according to an analysis of tax filings. The top 1% of US earners collected 19.3% of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927.

Barack Obama at Knox College: Reverse economic inequality
24 Jul 2013
Reversing US economic inequality should be Washington's top priority, President Barack Obama has said, as an autumn budget battle with Congress looms.
"Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1%," the Democratic president said on Wednesday. "The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999. This growing inequality isn't just morally wrong - it's bad economics."

Rich-poor divide accelerating, says OECD
15 May 2013
The gap between rich and poor widened more in the three years to 2010 than in the previous 12 years, the OECD group of industrialized nations has said. It says the richest 10% of society in the 33 OECD countries received 9.5 times that of the poorest in terms of income, up from nine times in 2007. Those with the biggest gaps included the US, Turkey, Mexico and Chile. Countries where the gap was least pronounced were mainly in the north of Europe, with Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Slovenia the most egalitarian societies.

Plutocrats: Who are the richest of the rich?
24 Jan 2013
Chrystia Freeland - author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else - and Anup Desai, a City University of New York professor involved in the Occupy movement, spoke to the BBC's Mishal Husain about the growth of the billionaire class, and what that means for the wider economy.

Davos 2013: Joseph Stiglitz attacks US 'inequality'
24 Jan 2013
The richest 1% of Americans now hold 25% of the country's wealth and more needs to be done to boost equality, Nobel Prize winning US economist Joseph Stiglitz has said. Mr Stiglitz, speaking in Davos, said this was a result of the top 1% seeing their wealth double since 1980. By contrast, he said that the median income level in the US had not changed since the early 1990s.

Wealth gap widens between super rich and rest
02 Feb 2011
Even as the global economy has grown overall, within countries, the gap between rich and poor has increased. This winner-take-all phenomenon has been particularly stark in the US, where, between 2002 and 2007, 65% of all income growth went to the top 1% of the population. But the divide has also widened in Britain, Canada, Germany and Scandinavia. It has increased in the booming emerging markets, too - communist China now has a gap between rich and poor as big as that of the laissez-faire US. This split between the super-rich and everyone else prompted three Citigroup analysts to conclude that "the world is dividing into two blocs - the plutonomy and everyone else". For the most part, today's plutocrats are not a leisured, landed gentry of inherited wealth. Today's plutocrats are the beneficiaries of globalization. They are a trans-global community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home.

Chairman Alan Greenspan, Monetary Policy Report to the Congress
16 Feb 2005
In a democratic society, such a stark bifurcation of wealth and income trends among large segments of the population can fuel resentment and political polarization. These social developments can lead to political clashes and misguided economic policies that work to the detriment of the economy and society as a whole.

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