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The growing divide at the top of the pyramid

Hot Stock Minute

Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task spoke with Lauren Lyster about how the increase in wealth among those in the top 0.01% of the country differs dramatically from those in the country’s wealthiest 1%. The wealth of those in the top 0.01% has increased the most dramatically over the last several decades. While Americans earning income in the top 1% of the country are doing better than those in the middle and the bottom, there's a divide even in that lofty group. "Even at the top of the pyramid, there’s people looking up at the very very top and saying, ‘Wow, you guys are taking more than your fair share,’ which is an amazing development,” said Task. “It causes us all to rethink what income equality really is all about.”

Task and Lyster also spoke about last night’s “60 Minutes” interview in which author Michael Lewis discusses his new book “Flash Boys.” The book is a story about how a then-trader at the Royal Bank of Canada realized that big firms with expensive computers and complex programs were able to see trades before they’re processed, buy a stock, then sell it to the original buyer at a higher cost. “Flash Boys” profiles how that trader discovered and stopped these high-frequency traders from getting ahead of his trades.

Lewis began the "60 Minutes" interview by saying the stock market is rigged. Lyster asked Task if he felt the same way. “I think the market is rigged,” he said. “I think the market has always been rigged.” But Task said that this is different than other reports about the markets unfairly benefiting a select few. These high-frequency trades are perpetrated by big institutional investors against other institutional investors and compared it to the divide between the top 1% of income earners and the top 0.01%. “It’s that institutions are being front-run by other institutions that have faster computers,” he said. “So again, it’s competition among - at the top of the pyramid.”

One thing the top 1% or top 0.01% is probably not struggling with is where to get their fast-food breakfast in the morning, but the 99% are. The breakfast wars are worth an estimated $50 billion, and they’re heating up this morning. McDonald's (MCD) today starts giving away free coffee for two weeks, a first for the company. This comes as a response to Taco Bell's new breakfast menu and a commercial in which men named Ronald McDonald say they like Taco Bell’s new breakfast. We want to know your thoughts. Which fast-food breakfast would you choose: McDonald's or Taco Bell. Cast your vote and post your comments as well.

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