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The richest 10% own 70% of the country’s wealth

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

The rich are becoming even more obscenely rich.

A new chart from Deutsche Bank Securities’ Chief Economist Torsten Slok shows how the richest 10% of households in America own 70% of all the wealth.

While household net worth has grown overall from $1.17 trillion in the fourth quarter of 1950 to $104.33 trillion in the last quarter of 2018, the details reflect disparity.

“The distribution of household wealth has become more uneven in recent years,” DB’s Torsten Slok stated.

In the chart, the top 1% has seen a steady increase in the overall wealth it holds, from nearly 25% in 2000 to a little bit more than 30% this year. And the top 10% now hold nearly 70% of overall wealth in the US, as compared to 60% in 2000.

On the other hand, the bottom 50% (in red) has seen its wealth erode to a tiny blip, shrinking from 3% in 2000 to a stunning 0% in 2010.

Recovery has been anemic, with the bottom 50% now holding only 1.3% of overall wealth.

The richest Americans hold most of America's wealth.

‘Freeloading billionaires’

The rich are supportive of a more nuanced tax policy, with billionaires even speaking out on the topic. But an additional tax burden has largely been out of the question.

Politicians have heavily criticized the super-wealthy for not paying enough, with some like Senator and Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren proposing a wealth tax.

"I'm tired of freeloading billionaires," Warren said during a recent speech on the campaign trail.

Her proposal would place a 2% tax on those with wealth above $50 million.

Meanwhile, a separate report from Deutsche Bank shows that the top income earners also pay the highest amount of taxes. The top 10% in 2016 paid 70% of all income taxes, out of which the top 1% paid more than 35%.

Billionaires like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have suggested that a tax reform — not a levy on wealth — could be a more effective approach.

“People earn money to pay their taxes, and then they don’t expect the government to come back and take some of it away,” he told reporters in January. “I think you can question whether or not we have the right tax rates.”

As the wealth inequality debates continue, so do the disparities. Three dynastic families in the US — the Waltons, the Kochs and the Mars — have seen their wealth increase by nearly 6,000% since 1982, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies. Meanwhile, median household wealth went down the same period by 3%.

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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