From the Roman Empire to our own Gilded Age, inequality moves in cycles. The future looks like a rough ride.
Today, the top one per cent of incomes in the United States accounts for one fifth of US earnings. The top one per cent of fortunes holds two-fifths of the total wealth. Just one rich family, the six heirs of the brothers Sam and James Walton, founders of Walmart, are worth more than the bottom 40 per cent of the American population combined ($115 billion in 2012). After thousands of scholarly and popular articles on the topic, one might think we would have a pretty good idea why the richest people in the US are pulling away from the rest. But it seems we don’t.