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I'm basing that claim on this: https://www.peoplespolicyproject.org/2019/06/14/top-1-up-21-...

https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/z1/dataviz/dfa/

>To derive this, I initially take the nominal net worth aggregates for each wealth group that are provided by the Federal Reserve and subtract out consumer durables. Consumer durables are things like cars and fridges that many academics who work on wealth distributions do not consider wealth. The average person in the top 1 percent owns around 32x as many consumer durables (in dollar terms) as the average person in the bottom 50 percent owns. So the subtraction of them reduces the inequality between the top 1 percent and bottom 50 percent.

From there, I adjust the 1989 figures to 2018 dollars using the CPI-U-RS price index. This is what the Federal Reserve also does to adjust wealth figures over time in its Survey of Consumer Finances reports.

What the final product reveals is a 2018 where the top 1 percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets. This follows from 30 years in which the top 1 percent massively grew their net worth while the bottom half saw a slight decline in its net worth.




> What the final product reveals is a 2018 where the top 1 percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets.

Does the bottom half own less than nothing when summed, or does every person in the bottom half own less than nothing?


Doesn't seem reasonable to suggest that someone who just bought $10K in durable consumer good for cash has a negative net worth.


Say someone buys a used car for $10K. Typically that is their only car, that they use work. They can't sell it because then they'd lose their job and probably be unable to buy food etc. So where is the cash value?

IMO "net worth" is kind of fuzzy, e.g. people have organs that could be sold for profit but those aren't included in calculations. I'd rather look at income minus expenses.


One can argue that owning a car saves you from the expense of buying a car. After your asset expires you have another $10k bill at the end. If your car is a super reliable prius and lasts twice as long as your old car then it may haved saved you money by reducing your transportation expenses.


Cars are liabilities. Almost invariably they will break down and require repairs, which are generally expensive. The moment you buy a car you are losing money on it. You’re losing it slower than if you had thrown the money off of a bridge, but it’s not an investment. Any money saved by making a good vehicle purchase is more of a discount on a cost you’re paying anyway.




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