Three Americans Now Own More Wealth Than Bottom Half of US Combined: Report

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Jake Johnson via,

“The elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us,” a new Institute for Policy study analysis finds.

In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.

Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U.S. is becoming “a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.”

“Over recent decades, an incredibly disproportionate share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to the top of our economic spectrum. At the tip of that top sit the nation’s richest 400 individuals, a group that Forbes magazine has been tracking annually since 1982,” write IPS’s Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie, the report’s authors.


“Americans at the other end of our economic spectrum, meanwhile, watch their wages stagnate and savings dwindle.”

Collins and Hoxie are quick to note that the vast gulf that currently exists between the rich and everyone else is not the product of some inexplicable “natural phenomenon.” It is, rather, the result of “unfair economic policies that benefit those at the top at the expense of those at  the bottom.”

Based on data recently made public by the Forbes 400 list and the Federal Reserve’s annual “Survey of Consumer Finances,” Billionaire Bonanza examines in detail the principal beneficiaries of America’s “deeply unbalanced economy”: the mega-rich.

“The wealthiest 25 individuals in the United States today own $1 trillion in combined assets,” the report notes.


“These 25, a group equivalent to the active roster of a major league baseball team, hold more wealth than the bottom 56 percent of the U.S. population combined, 178 million people.”

The top 25 list features billionaires who have attained their vast riches through a variety of means, from inheritance to investing to founding a corporate giant like Amazon or Google. What unites these enormously wealthy individuals—aside from the fact that they are all white—is that they just keep getting richer, decade after decade.

Average Americans, by contrast, have not fared nearly as well: a significant percentage of the U.S. households “have no savings at all or owe more than they own,” making them residents of what Collins and Hoxie term “Underwater Nation.”

“Excluding the value of the family car, 19 percent of U.S. households have zero or negative net worth,” the report notes.


“Looking at this trend through the lens of race reveals that 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative wealth.”

In order to get a broader sense of the size of the chasm between rich and poor in the U.S., Collins and Hoxie place the net worth of the top one percent and the bottom one percent side by side.

“All combined, households in the bottom one percent have a combined negative net worth of $196 billion,” the report finds. “For comparison, the top one percent, a category holding the exact same number of people, have positive $33.4 trillion in combined net worth.”

Even mainstream institutions like the International Monetary Fund have acknowledged that such vast disparities of wealth and income are not sustainable, politically or economically. But as Billionaire Bonanza notes, the Trump administration—with the help of the GOP-controlled Congress—appears bent on making these disparities worse by slashing taxes for the wealthy while gutting programs that primarily benefit low-income and middle class Americans.

So the first priority, Collins and Hoxie note, is to “reject tax and other federal policies that will add oil to the inequality fire.”

In terms of going on the offensive once the “do no harm” principle is observed, the report makes several suggestions, including:

  • Enacting higher marginal tax rates on individuals earning above $250,000 and $1 million;
  • “Addressing the problem of hidden wealth,” which often leads to an underestimation of the level of wealth inequality;
  • Instituting a tax on Wall Street financial transactions, which could bring in an estimated $350 billion in federal revenue over a decade;
  • Eliminate the carried interest loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to “reclassify wage income as capital income” and pay less in taxes as a result; and
  • Bolstering, rather than eliminating, the estate tax, which only affects a tiny number families.

As “the elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us,” the report notes, many Americans—including students saddled with loan debt, workers suffering from stagnant wages, and families who have seen “their wealth and savings evaporate”—are revolting against the system that allowed the richest to accumulate such wealth at the expense of so many.

“A century ago, a similar anti-inequality upsurge took on America’s vastly unequal distribution of income and wealth and, over the course of little more than a generation, fashioned a much more equal America,” Collins and Hoxie conclude. “We can do the same.”

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nmewn's picture

Not finding them on the list being considered...but whatever...

...what I am finding is about a +95% spread in favor of confirmed dimz.

Now how can that be? ;-)

Yukon Cornholius's picture

No, you won't find them on any lists. That's off-the-books wealth. Like, "hey, where's that 3 trillion the pentagon is missing" type wealth.

peddling-fiction's picture


Chump change for these folks.

Lumberjack's picture

You missed one. Pritzker’s.

Majestic12's picture

"Gates, Bezos, Buffet?"

Possibly, but I thought Gates looked a little more Reptilian (like Randall in Monsters Inc.)...

and didn't he have a tail?

junction's picture

Nobody is going to do anything about the situation.  There are too many people who like the system as it is: CEOs, heads of non-profit hospitals and colleges, cops with six figure pensions at age 42, the Bush Crime Cartel and its CIA and military dope dealers.  The looters who run America really believe that taxes are for the little people.  And if the little people are troublesome, the remedies are either a long prison sentences or FBI-staffed hit teams. 

jimmy12345's picture

technology is increasing income inequality.   The USA should raise the highest marginal tax rate to help the struggling white working class.

vietnamvet's picture

Time to acknowledge that capitalism has failed, disastrously, by any social measure you'd care to apply.

Gap Admirer's picture

We should try free market capitalism some day and see how it works. What we have had for a long time is crony capitalism. BIG difference.

Mustafa Kemal's picture

"We should try free market capitalism some day and see how it works."

The socialists say the same thing when you mention how bad it failed.

ShabbosGoy's picture

China seems to be doing fine.

In fact, they will easily surpass the broken USA when it comes to AI, healthcare, and standard of living. 

Only a cuck would question the validity of capitalism.

Darkman17's picture

I don’t get why rich people are a sign that capitalism failed, i think it’s a result of it working as expected. I am happy to say i use the products from all three of these men weekly and am perfectly happy they are rich as hell.

I don’t get all the envy and hate of the rich. My best guess is it’s because everyone feels depressed about their own lack of success and so they project it on the success of others.

Keep going Bill, Jeff, Warren, just don’t let the socialst americans discourage you and move to switzerland or monaco.

rf80412's picture

Depends on whether or not you think the business interests who benefit from laws and regulations being written and enforced to favor them would be less well off with no laws and regulations at all.

I'm a pessimist, so my gut reaction is that somehow that would be even worse.

Goatboy's picture

We should try free market capitalism some day and see how it works. What we have had for a long time is crony capitalism. BIG difference.

The more "free" it is, the more it tends to create monopolies and faster to create bizarrely outrageous inequality.

In reality, not how we would wish or "how it should be".

Any entity assuring "freedom" and morality is just as corruptible as everyone else.

So wake the fuck up!

Majestic12's picture

"The more "free" it is, the more it tends to create monopolies "

Did you just pull that out of your ass?

For those fake millennial "socialists", Marx actually praised Capitalism's ability to rapidly generate wealth (to redistribute equally).

He also praised Adam Smith for his treatise on "self-interest" as the motivation.

he disagreed with Smith, because he felt that most will not act in their "self-interest" and rather act in the interest of the monopoly corporations.

So, we see Marx is right, Smith lost out to monopolistic Oligarchy, or collusion (which is actually "Fascism").

"Free market" capitalism does not "tend to create" monopoly...if a business is not successful, it dies.

In monopoly, if a monopoly fails, it lobbies congress, changes tax laws, restricts competition, and cheapens quality...

Overvalued, Zombie monopoly corps walking...until the next big wipe out for the 99%!

Billy the Poet's picture

The more "free" it is, the more it tends to create monopolies and faster to create bizarrely outrageous inequality.

I can fix that for you. From now on you'll take orders from me thus guaranteeing your equality.

But have you seen this?


Why Rich Families Lose Their Wealth

Going from rags to riches is the popular story, but the full story should be rags to rags in three generations.

That's because children and grandchildren of the fortune-building super wealthy typically squander the family's riches.

Statistics show that 65 percent of family wealthy is lost by the second generation and 90 percent gone by the third generation, according to tax lawyer and investment advisor Tim Voorhees of WealthCounsel, a nationwide collaborative organization for attorneys and wealth planning professionals.



Any entity assuring "freedom" and morality is just as corruptible as everyone else.

Individuals who interact voluntarily sometimes with some folks and sometimes with others are not an entity.

Winston Churchill's picture

It hasn't been tried since  before WWII,crony capitalism has failed.

That only exists because of overreaching govt.

In fact you could say the fascists won WWII if you were a critical thinker.

Implied Violins's picture

...and those three are just workin' the casino; they don't own it. (((They))) do.

css1971's picture

Money isn't wealth. It's just a claim on real wealth and credit is a promise of a claim on real wealth.

Mena Arkansas's picture

aside from the fact that they are all white

How many are jews, cause they ain't "white".

c0nnect3d's picture

This article feels like stats porn... I

spieslikeus's picture

Bullshit article that doesn't name the three. We can if course speculate and in the end it doesn't matter much but still, shoddy attempt at educating someone.

east of eden's picture

Well, you know that one of them is Bezos, and he will squeal like a hog when slaughtered.

slwsnowman40's picture

Bill Gates, Amazon's Bezos and Warren Buffett.

spieslikeus's picture

Yes, but not my point. Shitty writing is....

max2205's picture

400 people who own 535 CONgress people.....easy button 

Gohigher's picture


these traitors must be voted out of power at every turn of the election cycle.


mb's picture

not really hard when the bottom half have no savings............dont earn any money


 19 percent of U.S. households have zero or negative net worth,


That pretty much says that anyone with a dollar positive balance, has more money than 19 percent..


BUt do they have an iphone, michael jordan basketball shoes, flatscreen TV, and spinners on their 1978 buick?

Its all about priorities.

Ar15ak47rpg7's picture

the future of America was cast the day the Federal Reserve was commissioned . It's all over folks ... the fat lady sang.

Sudden Debt's picture

well, the pland did need a shitload of morons to vote for their game.

so maybe you should blame the morons and not the result.


And when American turns into a total 3rd world country, those people will control you and will supress you.

Remember, every American dreams of killing other Americans in a zombie apocalyps. 

Poverty creates drug addicts and well... look at how they look like.


slwsnowman40's picture

This doesn't seem hard, how many of that half have a negative net worth?

adr's picture

Net worth expressed in values of stock shares doesn't actually exist. If there is no buyer for the share, its true value is zero. 

Precisely why the uber rich got central banks to print cash to buy the shares the scum couldn't sell. 

Essentially the top few are engaged in counterfeiting, plain and simple. The secret service should arrest them all and take down the Fed. 

Bill of Rights's picture

Great article, you can shoot me now.

He-He That Tickles's picture

Sounds like 25 bullets could make trillions of difference. Especially since most are so broke that they have nothing to lose.

Sudden Debt's picture



MarcusAurelius's picture

This is a by product of runnaway inflationary pressure over the past forty years. A few make it while the rest get fucked. That's capitalism and globalism. Yes buying local will stop it. Producing and supplying products that people "need" (versus want) will stop it. You can fuck Bezos and the rest with technology. 3D printing, AI, verticle growing and a host of other ways of doing things out of the box stops it. If you keep buying from these assholes with the business models based on cost cutting then it will only get worse. It takes collective effort and a change of ideology but it is NOT impossible. Start it in a little hamlet and keep the mega corporations out. It works trust me. All they are doing is using their free Fed money to further screw you by buying up everything that is NOT tied down that is worth something. Stop selling out and let these fuckers consume themselves. Stop renting their places, stop using their banks, stop going to their restaurants, stop buying their products UNLESS they actually do good for others. Break the chain. It is that simple. 

Rex Andrus's picture

What is aristocracy Alex?

KTV Escort's picture

"the report makes several suggestions" most of which siphon off a tiny portion from the mega wealthy and deposit it into .gov's coffers... but still doesn't address any issues which are sucking the middle class dry... worthless article

Radical Marijuana's picture

Private property does not exist outside of some system of public violence. The biggest and best organized gangsters are governments dominated by the international bankers, the banksters, who were able to capture the powers of governments through persistent and prolonged applications of the methods of organized crime. through the political processes, via the vicious spirals of the funding of all aspects of those political processes, including bribery, intimidation, and assassination of those who could not be otherwise bribed or intimidated.

The dominate languages are those which express the biggest bullies' bullshit world views, which became the banksters' bullshit regarding political economy. At the present time, it seems politically impossible for enough people to stop believing in that bullshit, especially because they continue to mostly take it for granted. The foundation of the existing political economy CONTINUES to be that the public powers of governments are used to enforce frauds by private banks, and the big corporations that grew up around those big banks being able to create the public "money" supplies out of nothing as debts.


The vast majority of people are being robbed blind by the established systems. Meanwhile, the dominate public debates regarding those developments are mostly parroted repetitions using terms such as "capitalism," or "socialism," etc., in ways which have pretty well nothing in common with either the dictionary definitions of those terms, nor the actual social facts.

The tragic trajectory "We the People" are on is for their power to be primarily used to symbolically rob them, since their public power is primarily operating through integrated systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, the most important forms of which are the ways that the monetary systems were backed up by the taxation systems, such that "money" made out of nothing as debts, through legalized counterfeiting, amounted to enforcing frauds that relentlessly and ruthlessly enabled very tiny minorities to symbolically rob the vast majority. Indeed, at the present time, almost everything which could be robbed already has been, to the degree that Civilization probably has become too completely corrupt and crazy to be able to recover from the degree to which that has become so.

Unless enough people better understood the principles and methods of organized crime, which are actually and necessarily the ways that Civilization operates, then there are no good grounds to expect that enough people would become more competent citizens, rather than continue to act like political idiots. One of the main reasons for how and why the symbolic robberies have become social polarization runaways are that there is almost nothing but the central core of triumphant organized crime, in the form of banker dominated governments, surrounded by layers of various controlled "opposition" groups which stay within the same bullshit-based frame of reference that the banksters were able to make become the dominate world views through which public debates of political issues are framed, such as, I REPEAT, the bizarre uses of terms like "capitalism," or "socialism," etc., that have almost nothing in common with either the dictionary definitions of those terms nor the factual situation.

I WISH that I could come to some better conclusions than that Globalized Neolithic Civilization has become too terminally sick and insane to recover from the degree to which that is so! However, the entrenched systems based on enforcing frauds are being enabled by about exponentially advancing technologies to become about exponentially more fraudulent. EVERYTHING regarding "private property" is based on being able to back up claims with coercions. The most abstract form of those are the ways that MONEY IS MEASUREMENT BACKED BY MURDER.

The increasingly "ironic" twists are the ways that the powers of "We the People" are used to symbolically rob, while the majority of "We the People" do not understand that because they have been conditioned to feel like they do not want to understand that. Meanwhile, the main reasons for why there are no reasonable hopes for the foreseeable finite future of that kind of Civilization is that there is no publicly significant genuine opposition, but rather, only various forms of controlled "opposition." Therefore, "We the People" being robbed blind have practically nowhere to turn to for any genuine resistance to their plight.

"We the People" have been too successfully brainwashed, for generation after generation, to take for granted thinking in terms of the DUALITIES of false fundamental dichotomies and the related impossible ideals, which always backfire badly and cause the opposite to actually happen. The only ways that the real problems could be more realistically resolved would be through starting to use more UNITARY MECHANISMS, such as understanding how and why governments are necessarily the biggest forms of organized crime, dominated by the best organized gangsters, who are now the big banksters, and the big corporations which have grown up around those big banksters.




As long as public debates regarding political economy continue to use the bogus, bullshit-based, misuses and abuses of terms which take for granted the DUALITIES of false fundamental dichotomies and the related impossible ideals, then there can not be any progress through those public debates. Rather, those debates will continue be stuck in the vicious spirals of taking for granted the basic bullshit upon which everything was based and built. In particular, the various controlled "opposition" groups will continue to follow superficial correct analyses with bogus "solutions" proposing and promoting the same old-fashioned impossible ideals, which perceive the mechanisms of how things work in the most absurdly backward ways possible.

The assertions of "ownership" of the "wealthy" are paradoxically based on the ways that "We the People" continue to believe in bullshit, such that enough of those masses of muppets continue to vote for the banksters' political puppets, as the excessively successful applications of the methods of organized crime to control Civilization thereby become more and more out of control manifestations of runaway criminal insanities.

cherry picker's picture


"Private property does not exist outside of some system of public violence. The biggest and best organized gangsters are governments dominated by the international bankers"

100% accurate.


ludwigvmises's picture

Capitalism is working. Those who are lazy, uninspired or simply "unfortunate" sink to the bottom. The high IQ, innovative and hard-working cream rises to the top. Greed is good, capitalism is good. Stop asking for hand-outs if you're not in the top 1%. If you want something, Millenials, work for it like the rest of us.

Vuke's picture

Yeah, right.  It sure helps if you are first in line for the gains.  That guy slogging to build your garden has an equal chance.

Rabbi Blitzstein's picture

LOL! Your rabbi laughs in face of stupid white goyim gullibility. Article says… “What unites these enormously wealthy individuals—aside from the fact that they are all white—is that they just keep getting richer, decade after decade.” What should say is… “What unites these enormously wealthy individuals—aside from the fact that they are all JEWS—is that they just keep getting richer, decade after decade.” Us jews are not white!, never have been, never will be, unless saying so serves our agenda. All jews know this. Only stupid goyim believe our lies. Make non-white goyim hate whites even more than ever. Hahaha! Our control of mass media continues to foment non-whites to hate whites. We make get all goyim to kill each other. Oy vey!!

tion's picture

Another thing that unites them

is that they won't find satisfaction in their wealth.

Their wealth may allow them more opportunities and open more doors

but those may just lead to more futile striving.

Beyond needs, most don't need much to take the first path

But most, even the extraordinarily wealthy, will walk the second for too long, and maybe turn to some sort of depravity in an attempt to fill the empty. Moar fuel for the bonfire.  Plenty of miserable uber wealthy people out there.  I guess what I am trying to say, is it's not necessarily worth chasing after what they've got, and it doesn't take as much to have a rich life as people might think.


Rabbi Blitzstein's picture

Us jews have been promised all the kingdoms of this world by our father the devil. Every shekel counts. Every shekel in our pockets is one less shekel in yours, stupid goyim cattle. We will have complete and total rule over this world soon because too many goyim have chosen to love and worship mammon. You goyim can deny it all you want, but you know deep down is true. And we jews are the masters of mammon, and thus masters of you. Goyim kvetch. LOL!

Mena Arkansas's picture

Can you give us an ETA on construction of the third temple so us stupid goy cattle will know what time our total enslavement to the jew master race is scheduled to begin?

Thanks in advance.

Rabbi Blitzstein's picture

LOL! As if that would make a difference to you, as if you even really cared. Silly goy. You make your rabbi revel in jewry.You’re welcomed in advanced.