9 November 2019   1 comment

The torrid growth of the stock market this year (18% growth) has aggravated the problem of inequality in the US. That growth last week added another $1 trillion of value in the stock market. That increase in value gives the top 1% of American society almost as much wealth as the middle and upper middle classes. According to Bloomberg:

“It may not be long before one-percenters actually surpass the middle and upper-middle classes. Household wealth in the upper-most bracket grew by $650 billion in the second quarter of 2019, while Americans in the 50th to 90th percentiles saw a $210 billion gain.

“For now, those Americans in 90th to 99th percentiles — well-to-do, but not the super rich — still control the biggest share of wealth, with $42.6 trillion in assets.

“The lone group left out of the fun: the bottom 50% of Americans. Those households have 35.7% of liabilities in the U.S. and just 6.1% of assets.”

The increase in wealth is hardly the result of robust economic growth–the US economy is growing but only at a rate of about 2% a year, much lower than the 18% increase in the value of the stock market. The stock market continues to grow rapidly because the cost of money is very low due to the low interest rates maintained by the US Federal Reserve.

The political question is how much tension these disparities will create. In the US, the Baby Boomer generation has 11 times the wealth of the Millennial generation. Right now, it does not appear as if the Millennials will take to the streets. But it is clear, that inequality is a prime mover of the protests that have occurred throughout the world this year.

Today marks two anniversaries. One is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when mobs of people in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland attacked the homes and shops of Jewish owners. The word Kristallnacht refers to the sound of shattered glass as windows were broken by the mobs, acts that were tolerated by the authorities. The violence presaged the Holocaust catastrophe. The violence was followed by the following changes in the treatment of Jews in Nazi-controlled areas:

  1. Jews were required to turn over all precious metals to the government.
  2. Pensions for Jews dismissed from civil service jobs were arbitrarily reduced.
  3. Jewish-owned bonds, stocks, jewelry and art works can be alienated only to the German state.
  4. Jews were physically segregated within German towns.
  5. A ban on the Jewish ownership of carrier pigeons.
  6. The suspension of Jewish driver’s licenses.
  7. The confiscation of Jewish-owned radios.
  8. A curfew to keep Jews of the streets between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. in the summer and 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the winter.
  9. Laws protecting tenants were made non-applicable to Jewish tenants.
  10. [Perhaps to help insure the Jews could not fight back in the future, the Minister of the Interior issued regulations against Jews’ possession of weapons on November 11. This prohibited Jews from “acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority.”]

Unfortunately, the world turned its back on the Jews who were disenfranchised by these actions. The inaction of the global community gave the Nazis the sense that their treatment of Jews would not result in any penalties.

The second anniversary is the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The wall was built in 1961 by East German authorities who wanted to prevent the outflow of people from East Berlin to West Berlin because the outflow suggested the failure of Communist rule in East Germany. For people in the West, the Wall symbolized the totalitarian rule enforced by the Soviet Union on its client states in East and Central Europe.

In 1989, there was increased pressure by the people of East Berlin to have access to the West and the ability of the East Germans to control the population of their part of the city declined precipitously. Ultimately, people began to move across the border and people in West Berlin began to tear down the wall. The collapse of the Berlin Wall signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War which finally resulted in the dissolution of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991.

The Collapse of the Berlin Wall

Posted November 9, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

One response to “9 November 2019

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  1. That’s weird. The Meminger Family will be on the Wall of Honor.

    Sent from my iPhone



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