The Net Wealth Shock in the USA

Dow flat. Gold flat.

What’s going on? It looks like investors are holding their breath…waiting to see if the country goes over the “fiscal cliff”. At least, that’s what the commentators are saying.

We don’t know what to think. Investors probably don’t know either.

But we didn’t have to think this weekend. We could gawk. The weekend news was enlivened by reports of General Petraeus’s affair. We saw the photos of his paramour and his wife. Then, we knew exactly what was going on.

In money, in war, politics, and in love – it’s still the same old story. A fight for love and glory. A case of do or die. As time goes by…

Everybody wants what he doesn’t have. More money. More glory. Or more love. Those who have it usually want more of it. Those who don’t have it…well…they want more too.

But our beat is money. We’re here to cover the haves…and the have-nots…of the money game. If you need love advice… well, heck… we’ll give you that too!

How do you get more love? Give more love. There…that’s all there is to it. You get what you give. As you sow, so shall ye reap. Smile and the whole world smiles with you. Love…and love bounces right back at you.

And if that doesn’t work, try buying it.

So, let’s get back to the money.

Professor Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago put together this chart.

Net Wealth Shock in the USA



It shows that the top 10% are doing all right. Everyone else has lost a lot of money. At the bottom, among the lowest quarter of the population, people are poorer now than they were 20 years ago.

In the middle, they’re about flat over the last two decades.

At the top…they’re way ahead.

And here’s another item (below), which gives us more info on the have-nots. One thing we see right away: one thing the have-nots have is food stamps!

The number of people on food stamps has just hit another record… at 47.1 million, after a big jump in July. Meanwhile, look at that line on the bottom. It shows job losses. Uh oh. Down 4.6 million since 2007, while the number of people on food stamps or disability is up 21.2 million.



Yesterday, we saw three disabled guys racing each other down Eutaw Street in their motorised wheelchairs. Probably trying to be first in line at the liquor store.

What happened to these guys? They were all fairly young. Probably gunshot victims. But what makes them disabled? Answer: about $1,000 a month in social security disability insurance (SSDI) payments.

They can’t walk, right? But why not work while sitting down? That’s what most people do anyway. Were it not for the feds’ disability payments, these guys would find work quickly.

‘You get what you pay for,’ said Milton Friedman. You pay people to be disabled. Is it any wonder you get so many disabled people?


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

From the Archives…

The Grand Plans of the Chinese Communist Party
9-11-2012 – Greg Canavan

The Superannuation Gravy Train
8-11-2012 – Greg Canavan

Using the Habit of Optimism to Find Great Investment Opportunities
7-10-2012 – Dan Denning

The US Presidential Election: The other race that stops the other nation…
6-10-2012 – Dan Denning

Why Gold Hasn’t Risen
5-10-2012 – Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

Latest posts by Bill Bonner (see all)

Leave a Reply

2 Comments on "The Net Wealth Shock in the USA"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

Did you watch the Al Jazeera special on Baltimore?


Love and glory, ah the Lorelei ….

Letters will be edited for clarity, punctuation, spelling and length. Abusive or off-topic comments will not be posted. We will not post all comments.
If you would prefer to email the editor, you can do so by sending an email to