In the United States, low rates make the rich happy

The value of the first 400 fortunes has been multiplied by 2.3 in ten years. The policy of free money is not for nothing, as well as for 55 million Americans whose retirement is invested in pension funds.

Time to Reading 5 min.


No doubt unconstitutional, without a majority to vote and reporting much less than expected: Larry Summers, former secretary of the Treasury Bill Clinton, did not have enough harsh words, October 17, at the Washington think tank Peterson Institute, to criticize the wealth tax (ISF), product imported from France by economists Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez and adopted by the Democratic nomination candidate Elizabeth Warren (2% beyond 50 million dollars – 45 million EUR – 6% above 1 billion).

Yet, there is an urgent need to look at the fortunes of the Forbes 400 – the list of the 400 biggest US fortunes published by the magazine – which are to America what were the "two hundred families" accused of controlling France from the 1930s.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Federal Reserve lowers key rates again

According to the counter stopped in September, the wealth of 400 has come close to $ 3 trillion. A fortune multiplied by 2.3 in ten years, since the lowest reached, in 2009, at the heart of the financial crisis. The reason for their wealth? Donald Trump, of course. This is in any case the widespread theory: the American plutocracy has put one of his own in power (with 3.1 billion dollars in estimated wealth, the president of the United States is listed in the 275e ranking), which hastened to reduce their taxes. The 400 have a tax rate now lower than the Americans, say Zucman and Saez. The remedy seems obvious: the tax.

An easy money-doped system

The subject deserves to be dug. First, the friend of the rich is Barack Obama. The fortune of 400 has indeed grown 23% under Trump (since September 2016), but it had grown 53% under Obama (89% between the trough of 2009 and 2016). And the maker of the rich is the Federal Reserve (Fed, US central bank) and its low interest rate policy since the recession. Free money is the feast of those who have property: we can see it in France, with the boom of real estate; we see it on Wall Street, which beats record-breaking. In ten years, the Standard & Poors index has multiplied by 2.8 and the wealth of billionaires has followed.

In detail, the surge in equities can be explained by corporate profits, which have doubled in ten years (thanks in particular to the cartelisation of the economy) and by lower interest rates. This second factor may appear minor, stock market shares today are bought 23 times the expected profits of companies, a relatively stable price compared to the year 2010 and well below 1999 (33 times the results), in full Internet bubble.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here