In 2006, the top one per cent of American households’ share of all disposable income amounted to almost a quarter of all households’ disposable income, according to Robert Hunter Wade, professor of political economy at the London School of Economics.
In crude terms, one per cent of the population have a quarter of all the wealth.
Moreover, Wade found the average income of the bottom 90 per cent of the population remained almost stagnant after 1980, although consumption kept rising thanks to the build-up of private debt.
This means that 90 per cent of the American economy were financing their American dream on debt.
Where were the signs that things were going to end disastrously and, worse still, that the most vulnerable might end up paying the heftiest and most disproportionate price than anyone else?
I believe the status quo was allowed to go unquestioned because banks were benefiting obscenely from the interest on our debt, and governments were in cahoots with these banks.
Let’s not forget that governments conveniently moved away from the provision of affordable healthcare, free university education and affordable housing while the banks entered our lives, aggressively, to fill that void.
In addition, I think that this warped and unjust way of operating was not questioned because the electorate was kept in the dark in the most subtle way possible.
The whole issue was made invisible. It was kept off the radar screens of electoral politics.
The American electorate were made accomplice to this because they were convinced that what was good for Wall Street, was good for America as a whole.
It was a political sleight of hand of the highest order. And this explains the bipartisan agreement to the ill-designed deregulation of the finance sector that we have seen over the years.
America has become a bank-owned state.
— Samah El-Shahat, Al Jazeera’s resident economist