The rich-get-richer decade

The great Emmanuel Saez has done it again:

Two-thirds of the nation’s total income gains from 2002 to 2007 flowed to the top 1 percent of U.S. households, and that top 1 percent held a larger share of income in 2007 than at any time since 1928, according to an analysis of newly released IRS data by economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez.

The truly stunning part of this: If you look at CBPP’s accompanying chart, the disparity in who’s getting the embiggened piece of the pie was way higher during the ’00s than during the ’90s or ’80s — basically, the Aughts saw the rich getting richer while everyone else treaded water in a way that hasn’t been seen since the days of Ponzi himself. And while Saez sees the wealthy coming back to earth a bit thanks to the Great Recession, it may not last long, notes CBPP: “Whether the highest income households will once more capture a highly disproportionate share of income gains as the economy begins to recover is uncertain, but Saez, along with Harvard economist Lawrence Katz, points to previous recessions and notes that only major policy shifts like the New Deal have prevented income concentration from ‘bouncing back’ after a decline.”

Major policy shifts like the New Deal? Oh yeah, I remember when we used to still dream about those…