Since the 1970s, the rich have been getting richer with stunning consistency, but now, thanks to the recession, that decades-long run has hit a wall, the New York Times reports. Wall Street pay is indeed returning to normal, but for every investment banker who’s benefiting from that, several more are unemployed. And unlike the last recession, they likely won’t be able to immediately recover on the back of a new bubble.
Last year, the number of Americans with a net worth of at least $30 million fell 24%. That could signal a trend toward the more even income distribution that prevailed for much of the 20th century, but some economists think that the middle and lower class will suffer, too, as the wealthy’s woes trickle down in the form of reined-in charitable giving and spending. Others believe that such concentrated wealth has warped the economy and government, and welcome a flatter playing field.