The net result of a rigged system is the vast majority of the gains in income and wealth flow to the very tippy-top of the wealth/power pyramid.
We often hear how the system (i.e. our economy) is rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many, but exactly how is it rigged? Longtime correspondent Zeus Y. recently highlighted two specific mechanisms that favor the top 0.01%: high frequency trading (HFT) and oligarchic inheritance, the generational transfer of immense wealth and the power it buys.
High frequency trading (HFT) is a mechanism only available to the few at the top of the wealth/power pyramid to skim money from markets–please watch the videos below for further explanation of how HFT works.
As for inheritance–we’re not talking about leaving a house or a small business to one’s offspring, or even a couple million of dollars; we’re talking about tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. Some states impose an estate or inheritance tax, but at the federal level, the exemption of $11 million per person means a married couple can leave $22 million tax-free.
The number of people with more than $11 million to pass on is extremely small:
In 2018, the exemption doubled to $11.18 million per taxpayer due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. As a result, only approximately 2,000 people (or 0.0006% of the population) in the US are currently liable for estate tax.
The mega-bucks families and billionaires practice the fine art of philanthro-capitalism, leaving their vast fortunes in so-called charitable trusts that enable power and wealth to be transferred generationally.
Here are Zeus’s video recommendations and comments:
These two videos, four and two years old, brought something that had escaped my attention about the fundamental distortion of high frequency trading (HFT). These consequences have not come due yet, but it is a preview for how it will happen (flash crash).
Michael Lewis: Nobody Understands the Stock Market (13:19) (2014)
Here is another video (Bill Moyers interviewing Paul Krugman) on Thomas Picketty’s book Capital in which Krugman admits he did not see the most important feature of systemic inequality–