Forbes’ update on the state of plutonomy or “democracy for the few”
from Edward Fullbrook
The current Forbes, the bi-weekly of The One Percent, features an update on the current state of what it, like Citigroup, calls plutonomy. Also called by its insiders “democracy for the few”, this is the basic economic-political reality of our time, which one-percenters chat about daily and which the rest of us generally pretend doesn’t exist. Skeptics of the analysis of plutonomy offered in “The Political Economy of Bubbles” in the current issue of RWER are encouraged to read Forbes’ plutonomy update. Below is a taster.
The new “us versus them” is not like the racism of colonial times. This is starkly different. It’s the 99% versus the 1%, . . .
Call it “democracy for the few”, the rich are rising in numbers and getting their way. By many accounts, they live in an Earthly greenzone, sometimes above the law, almost always above financial crises. Although thousands of wealthy individuals lost their jobs when Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers folded in 2008, and hundreds saw their retirement accounts evaporate due to an abundance of good-times Ponzi schemes, on balance, in the eye of the global economic storm when plutonomy seemed under threat as asset values plummeted, the response to the financial crisis did more to revive the value of investments held by the wealthy than improve the position of the wider population, says Liam Bailey, head of residential research at Knight Frank in London.
Economic turbulence failed to curb the rise in the number of ultra-wealthy individuals in 2011, according to exclusive new figures produced for Knight and Citi’s The Wealth Report 2012. There are now 63,000 people worldwide with $100 million or more in assets, according to Ledbury Research, a London-based firm specializing in monitoring global wealth trends. The number of these so called centa-millionaires has gone up by 29% since 2006. Their net worth is around $40 trillion. How much is that? By comparison, world GDP in 2011 was $62.9 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund. The world’s Cloud Minders, the new one-percenters, or better yet the one-tenth-percenters, are worth more than the U.S. and Chinese economy produced last year. Like the inscription on the James Farley Post Office building in New York: “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” will stop them from getting even richer.