The Top 10 Percent

To be clear, I don’t think nitpicking with the 99 Percent movement should be the top order of the day. But seeing as this is a policy blog and all, it’s worth noting that the whole top 10 percent of the American income spectrum — not just the top 1 percent — has done OK in the Age Of Inequality. One of Menzie Chinn’s Lost Decades charts illustrates the point:

These folks are also affluent enough to be accumulating some assets in the stock and bond markets, to be paying off their student loans, etc. Doug Henwood says “maybe 80% is more like it,” but I agree with him that “99% is catchy, and it can lead in very fruitful directions.” What’s more, it is true that conditions have been especially favorable to the very tippy top of the income distribution, so there’s nothing wrong with a broad rhetoric that aspires to universality. It’s just important for a 99 percent movement to really be about the problems of average people and not the problems of the 98th percentile.