Something that I think we don’t hear enough about in the inequality debate is that it’s not just median wages that have been stagnating recently, it’s equity prices as well:
The basic trend of sluggish growth in the early 1990s, fast growth in the late nineties, and stagnation since then is the same as what we see in the wage data. Things were different in the 1980s where we had stocks do well amidst middling GDP growth and terrible wage performance. It’s a pretty classic “capital crushes labor” kind of story that goes along nicely with Ronald Reagan’s political agenda of helping capital to crush labor as an inflation cure. But for the past 20 years, median wages, stock prices, and per capita GDP have shown a similar basic pattern. The income gains have flowed to people in the third world and a tiny class of American financiers. The smart investment to make in 1990 was to buy land in New York or San Francisco (or, I suppose, Shenzhen).