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We have looked at some past examples of America’s Financial Oligarchy, seeing in their ranks the mirror of the political elite.  With another post we saw the control of Bush and Rockefeller, and in a third a company set to take over entire foreign countries.

But in case you thought each were aberrations, or idiosyncratic events that occurred only in their own times, the Bush/Rockefeller scenario being pre war, the United Fruit Company being just after in the fifties, I thought it might be interesting to see if the hold of a small number of families and individuals was as strong today in the most democratic country in the world.  Will this prove that capital is still sequestered in the hands of those 600 families (or similar) as Huey Long supposed all those years ago?

Let’s look at a couple of charts taken from 2007  just at the high point of that bull market, right on the cusp of the financial disaster visited on not just America but the whole world.  What shall we find?


With the second table matters are even more astonishing.  Despite decades of supposed increasing democratisation it seems that even more financial control and power is gathered into ever fewer hands.   This is for share ownership.

Source: Arthur B Kennickell, “Ponds and Streams: Wealth and Income in the US 1989-2007
Federal Reserve Board Working Paper January 7, 2009 Fig A3a p63
Note this does not include assets held in market mutual funds or tax-deferred retirement accounts.

For further info check http://extremeinequality.org 

A few figures help. 

 In 1945 10% of the population owned  30% of the wealth.
 In 1980 10% of the population owned 20% of the wealth.
 In 1989 10% of the population owned 36% of the wealth.

 And in 2008 1% (yes not 10% 1%!) owned   43%
 10% of the population owned 70% 
 20% of the population owned 90%

Ponder that when you wonder if you are going to be keeping your  job come Christmas, or if your children will ever get a decent “professional” job on graduating from college, or when your brother loses his job, and your neighbour has his house foreclosed on him by the bank.  This is a land of the brave indeed!  Be brave and hope you don’t get old, or sick, or lose your living. 

Its a disgrace and its just not right.

Copyright David Macadam 2010