The Bush recession devastated the working class and nearly wiped out the middle class. It put at least 13 million Americans out of work. About 10% of American families lost the homes they were living in. Millions of millennials had to move back in with their parents. Almost 40% of all the wealth in the country was wiped out. This was a disaster.
Not everyone suffered the same during the recession, and the recovery has not been equal either. The Wall Street Banks whose greed caused the financial collapse that led to the recession are better off and more profitable today than before they collapsed the economy. Their executives make at least 20% more than they did back then—despite putting their institutions into near collapse.
Corporate profits are higher today than before the recession. CEO compensation has increased, and the disparity of wealth in this country is at levels not seen since the 1920’s when wealth disparity led to the Great Depression under Herbert Hoover.
Most Americans, however, are making 7% less than they did before the collapse when inflation is taken into account. And, despite steady job growth, 11 million are still un-employed or under employed.
The policies of George W. Bush and the Republican Congress served huge corporations, Wall Street, and the top 1% well. The Bush gift is one that keeps on giving. So does the shaft that the rest of the country got from the Bush/Cheney administration and GOP Congress.
The de-regulation of the banking industry allowed Wall Street speculators to gamble other people’s money in schemes that would have been stopped by regulators. The laissez faire policies of Bush brought the financial system down and forced taxpayers to bail the crooks out. No one went to jail. The perpetrators are doing better today than they were back then due to bad laws and a Congress that has been holding up the banking reforms passed by Democrats in 2009.
An updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty found the top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago. The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913, when the government instituted an income tax.
High stock prices, rising home values and surging corporate profits have buoyed the recovery-era incomes of the most affluent Americans, with stagnant wages for many blue- and white-collar workers.
“These results suggest the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s,” Mr. Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in his analysis of the data.
More generally, richer households have disproportionately benefited from the boom in the stock market during the recovery, with the Dow Jones industrial average more than doubling in value since it bottomed out early in 2009. About half of households hold stock, directly or through vehicles like pension accounts. But the richest 10 percent of households own about 90 percent of the stock, expanding both their net worth and their incomes when they cash out or receive dividends.
Things are not likely to get better anytime soon with the gridlock in Washington and Republican obstruction to every job creating proposal of the Obama administration. Perhaps voters will fix this in 2014, or perhaps Republicans will control the Senate and make ting even worse.