Federal Reserve data show that just 14 percent of U.S. families own stock directly, and only 52 percent have a retirement account. It's a highly skewed group: White households are far more likely to hold stock than black or Hispanic households, while the vast majority of stock holdings belong to the wealthiest 5 percent. Economists say that these trends are reinforcing patterns of inequality, by making it less likely that certain groups will ever create new wealth. Could technology change that? Recently, a handful of new apps have begun attracting first-time investors — but economists warn that whether these new traders ever build wealth will depend on how they use the new tech.
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