Friday, 16 May 2014

A comment about wealth...


The ONS has published the latest figures on the UK's wealth. And this has resulted in a load of, mostly ill-informed, articles either celebrating the rise in numbers of millionaires or bemoaning the alleged increase in wealth inequality.

Here's once such:

On the other hand, the data suggest that wealth disparity across Britain is worsening. The richest 10pc of households now own 44pc of total household wealth – an increase since the current Government came to power in 2010. The top 10pc owns about five times as much as the poorest half of the population, who between them account for just 9pc of overall wealth. 

Bear in mind that we are talking here about wealth not income, which means that this observation really doesn't matter a jot. The question we need answering is how wealth will change over time not how it is distributed right now. Indeed, if we look at the least wealthy half of the population, this will include a huge chunk of the population living in houses with whacking great mortgages, young graduates in their first jobs with student debts to pay off and school leavers with no assets and £150 of credit card debt.

All of these people probably have negative wealth, but for a lot of them, this will change. Folk will pay off their mortgages turning the homes into wealth, student debts will get paid off and that youngster will join a pension scheme. So the issue isn't whether the top 10% own 44% of total household wealth but how many currently living without wealth will become wealthier simply by the process of continuing what they're doing right now.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Cooke

What will the incentives be to generate wealth if you are not going to enjoy the fruits? Compulsory redistribution includes every penny anyone ever earns, saves or invests.

With zero incentives the economy will stagnate and shrink, while ever larger bureaucracies divide up the ever diminishing GDP amongst the idle poor, while maintaining a surprisingly lavish lifestyle themselves.

This may mean a few million will starve to death, but a small price to pay for 'wealth equality' for the masses.