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Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly

Episode 114: Antitrust the process

May 21, 2019

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About half of America has zero net wealth

Noel King Apr 21, 2014
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Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Wealth is the value of everything you own: stocks, bonds, your home, your car — minus your debts. And while income inequality has taken center stage in debates about the growing gap between rich and poor, what’s happening with wealth paints an even more staggering picture.

The wealth share of the 0.01 percent, or the top 16,000 families in America, has skyrocketed. That tiny group now owns 12 percent of the wealth in America.

The wealth of the larger one percent  — and even the .5 percent — isn’t rising.

These days, if you want to be among the biggest winners, says UC Berkeley researcher Gabriel Zucman, who co-wrote a new report on wealth, it helps to be in the 0.1 percent or better.

Around 50 percent of the US population, Zucman said, has zero net wealth. Their debts, effectively, equal their assets. 

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