Tuesday, August 13, 2019

American economic inequality by the numbers - 'not the America we want to live in'

538’s significant digits email yesterday morning has this tidbit about one family’s wealth.

$70,000 per minute
That’s how much money the Walmart-owning Walton family has made in the year since Bloomberg’s previous list of the world’s richest families. The Waltons top that list this year, with wealth of $190.5 billion. The Mars, Koch, Al Saud and Wertheimer (of the Chanel fashion house) families round out a top five. The 25 richest families in the world control $1.4 trillion, a figure which is up nearly a quarter from last year. [Bloomberg]

It’s not so bad if you compute it per second: $1,167.

It looks a lot worse if you compute it per hour, $4,200,000.

Try daily: $100,800,000

Yearly? $36,792,000,000

Here is more reporting on the Walton mega-fortune in The World’s Wealthiest Family Gets $4 Million Richer Every Hour.

Stunner: ’The 25 wealthiest dynasties on the planet control $1.4 trillion"

The numbers are mind-boggling: $70,000 per minute, $4 million per hour, $100 million per day.

That’s how quickly the fortune of the Waltons, the clan behind Walmart Inc., has been growing since last year’s Bloomberg ranking of the world’s richest families.

At that rate, their wealth would’ve expanded about $23,000 since you began reading this. A new Walmart associate in the U.S. would’ve made about 6 cents in that time, on the way to an $11 hourly minimum.

Even in this era of extreme wealth and brutal inequality, the contrast is jarring. The heirs of Sam Walton, Walmart’s notoriously frugal founder, are amassing wealth on a near-unprecedented scale — and they’re hardly alone.

So it goes around the globe. America’s richest 0.1% today control more wealth than at any time since 1929, but their counterparts in Asia and Europe are gaining too. Worldwide, the 25 richest families now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth, up 24% from last year.

To some critics, such figures are evidence that capitalism needs fixing. Inequality has become an explosive political issue, from Paris to Seattle to Hong Kong. But how to shrink the growing gap between the rich and the poor?

As the tension increases, even some billionaire heirs are backing steps such as wealth taxes.

“If we don’t do something like this, what are we doing, just hoarding this wealth in a country that’s falling apart at the seams?” Liesel Pritzker Simmons, whose family ranks 17th on the Bloomberg list, said in June. “That’s not the America we want to live in.”

FYI:

The Walton fortune has swelled by $39 billion, to $191 billion, since topping the June 2018 ranking of the world’s richest families.

Bloomberg has the skinny on the top 25 dynasties.

Number 1 – 190.5 billion

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer by revenue, with sales of $514 billion from more than 11,000 stores worldwide. Family holding company Walton Enterprises owns half the retailer, a stake that’s the foundation of the world’s biggest fortune.

Number 25 – 29.8 billion

Michele Ferrero built a global chocolate confectionery company from a start in the small Italian town of Alba. His son Giovanni took sole helm of the family business after his brother Pietro died in a cycling accident in 2011. Ferrero acquired Nestle’s U.S. candy business for $2.8 billion in 2018.

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