Thick, dark clouds this early Sunday on California’s north coast — supposedly rain is to slow today, down to cloudy tonight and back to fog on Monday.
Just a respite, though, forecast is for more rain in the immediate future, maybe Tuesday.
A little bewildered this morning. Somehow I figured Daylight Savings Time was to end today — last Sunday in October, or whatever — but the ‘fall back’ is for next Sunday, Nov. 2.
Odd, the words ‘physical,’ and ‘fiscal,’ and if spoken quickly, or if maybe the speaker is ignorant, or just dumb, the words sound alike — fiscal doesn’t have the middle ‘ah’ vibration found in physical.
In the real world, they’ve totally different meanings, like football is physical, and accounting is fiscal.
(Illustration: Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Frugal Meal’ found here).
But the fiscal can surely fuck up the physical.
Although the article appeared Wednesday in the Washington Post, I didn’t see it until this morning (h/t The Big Picture), and popped the idea bubble to the physical/fiscal routine — another shitty report on the inbred, virus-like horror of fiscal inequality, and the defeating physical results.
A big, huge, majority chunk of Americans have been losing their shit for 30 years:
This is actually a much more dramatic statement than it sounds.
While the Federal Reserve has already told us that the median households is worth less now than it was in 1989 — that’s the household right in the middle — it turns out that everybody but the richest 10 percent of Americans are worst off.
That includes the poor, the entire middle class, and even what we would consider much of the upper class.
But these days of shared prosperity have come to an end, gradually and then suddenly.
It started in the 1980s when the top 1 percent awoke from their long postwar slumber, thanks to the combination of lower taxes, financial deregulation, and new technology.
It wasn’t a total disaster for the bottom 90 percent.
Even as most Americans saved much less, accumulating far less wealth, stock markets and housing prices continued to rise.
Until they didn’t, coming crash down in 2007 and 2008.
It’s been a lost 25 years for the bottom 90 percent, but a lost 15 for the next 9 percent, too.
That’s right: altogether, the bottom 99 percent are worth less today than they were in 1998.
But this isn’t a story about the top 1 percent running away from everybody else.
It’s a story about the top 0.1 — scratch that, the top 0.01 percent — doing so.
You can see that in the chart below, again based on data from Saez and Zucman, of each group’s share of US wealth.
Indeed, since 1980, the top 0.01 percent’s piece of the wealth pie has increased by 8.6 percentage points, while the next 0.09 percent’s has done so by 5.4.
The bottom 99 percent, meanwhile, have seen their wealth share fall an astonishing 18 percentage points.
The righting of that inversion of fiscal to physical is most-likely impossible.
However, supposedly the US is economically doomed if nothing is done.
Near-about saying as much, Janet Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, delivered a stern, realistic lecture at a conference in Boston two weeks ago on the economic tragedy of inequality, and how it be, and how it’s increasing.
John Cassidy at The New Yorker deciphered Yellen’s message that this inequality is not really, as she says, “compatible with values rooted in our nation’s history, among them the high value Americans have traditionally placed on equality of opportunity.”
In fiscal facts and figures:
Turning to wealth, which includes financial assets, real estate, and durable goods, such as cars, Yellen noted that the pattern was the same—except the increase in inequality had been even more stark.
In 1989, the richest five per cent owned fifty-four per cent of over-all wealth.
By 2010, that figure had risen to sixty-one per cent.
And by 2013, it had reached sixty-three per cent.
Since the top five per cent of households own almost two-thirds of the wealth, it stands to reason that most American households don’t own very much at all.
But the figures that Yellen presented are still shocking.
In 1989, the bottom half of the distribution owned just three per cent of all wealth.
By 2013, that figure had fallen to one per cent.
No, that’s not a typo: half the country owns one per cent of its wealth.
And it’s not just that most households don’t have much wealth.
According to this measure, anyway, they have been getting poorer — a point that is often vigorously contested.
In 1989, the average net worth of families in the bottom fifty per cent was twenty-two thousand dollars.
Twenty-four years later, the average net worth had fallen by half. (These figures are adjusted for inflation.)
At the top of the distribution, of course, history has proceeded along very different lines.
In 1989, the average net worth of families in the top five per cent was $3.6 million. By 2013, that figure had risen to $6.8 million.
A hard, rough road, and in our out-of-shape fiscal shape, going downward.
And onward, backward — from the Economic Policy Institute in January 2013 on how the rich rebound rapidly: ‘Those at the top are seeing their wages rebound quite strongly in the recovery. Following a 15.6 percent decline from 2007 to 2009, real annual wages of the top 1.0 percent of earners grew 8.2 percent from 2009 to 2011.
The real annual wages of the bottom 90 percent have continued to decline in the recovery, eroding by 1.2 percent between 2009 and 2011.’
A fiscal fish tale physically told…