Tuesday, November 21, 2006

doing the disparity numbers with Dr. Jerry

Income Inequality: The Haves and the Have-Nots: Here's some good data and common sense from Dr. Jerry Webman at Oppenheimer. One of his conclusions is that the solution lies in the classrooms. Read it all, but here's a teaser:

"“By show of hands, how many of you are concerned about the direction of the U.S. economy?” The hands often shoot up as if the audience were auditioning for a Sure Deodorant commercial. In the aftermath of the mid-term election, many former Congressional incumbents are left pondering this surprising result as well. The latest poll data shows that 55% of Americans rate the economy as only fair or poor while 54% say it is getting worse.1 How is this possible? Is my Blackberry lying to me?
The U.S. economy has grown over 15% in real terms since 2001. Corporate profits have more than doubled over that time period and stocks are up over 30% since the end of that year.2 Americans who want jobs have jobs, as the unemployment rate has fallen to five-and-a-half year lows of 4.4%, while worker productivity has reached all-time highs. So what’s there to complain about?
The disconnect stems from the unusual way in which this recent surge of prosperity has distributed itself through the citizenry. Here are some examples: Corporations posted profits of $1.62 trillion in the second quarter with earnings on track for 17% increase y/y in 3Q, while employers currently pay less of their profits in the form of salaries than at any other time since the Great Depression. The top 1% of wealthiest Americans now earn more than the bottom 40% (translation: the combined income of the 3 million wealthiest Americans is greater than that of the poorest 110 million Americans combined) while the top 20% claim well more than half of all income.3 And as 25% of families in the bottom income bracket struggle with debt that exceeds 40% of their annual income4, the average "

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