The world now faces an economic inequality crisis with few policy options.

Daisy Harvey

2018-01-04 07:36:00 Thu ET

The world now faces an economic inequality crisis with few policy options. Some recent U.S. Federal Reserve data suggest that both income and wealth inequality accelerates in America. The top 3% own 54% of U.S. wealth, whereas, the bottom 90% own only 24% of U.S. wealth. The top 3% rake in a much greater proportion of total income in comparison to the prior state back in 2010, whereas, the bottom 90% earn proportionately less now. U.S. income and wealth concentrate in white citizens, homeowners, and upper social echelons with high educational attainment.

This economic inequality between the rich and the poor also prevails in Britain, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and some other parts of the Euro zone. Populist politics would seem to have become a natural reaction to this worldwide inequality in light of Brexit, Trump presidential election victory, and strongman rule by Putin, Xi, and Duterte. Pundits and policymakers can consider several solutions such as income tax credit, greater public investment in education, more progressive wage-versus-capital income tax treatment, and less residential segregation. A radical solution involves what Professor Thomas Piketty proposes as global capital taxation. The latter may affect international capital flows as Tobin taxes lower the average after-tax rate on capital investments in different countries.

 


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