Increasing Inequality, Status Insecurity, Ideology, and the Financial Crisis of 2008
The current financial crisis has been blamed on inadequate regulation stemming from laissez-faire ideology, combined with low interest rates. But beneath these widely-acknowledged causal factors lies a deeper underlying determining cause that has received less notice: the dramatic increase in inequality in the U.S. over the preceding 35 years. This rise in inequality generated three phenomena that heightened conditions in which this crisis could occur. The first is that greater inequality meant that individuals were forced to struggle harder to find ways to consume more to maintain their relative social status. The consequence was that over the preceding three decades household saving rates plummeted, workers worked longer hours, and households took on ever-greater debt. The second phenomenon is that, flush with ever greater income and wealth, the elite were able to flood financial markets with credit, helping keep interest rates low and encouraging the creation of new credit instruments. The third phenomenon is that, as the rich took larger shares of income and wealth, they gained relatively more command over everything, including ideology. Reducing the size of government, deregulating the economy, and failing to regulate newly evolving credit instruments flowed out of this ideology.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.american.edu/cas/economics/|
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robert Frank, 2000. "Does Growing Inequality Harm the Middle Class?," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 253-264, Summer.
- Jon D. Wisman, 2008. "Household Saving, Class Identitiy, and Conspicuous Consumption," Working Papers 2008-19, American University, Department of Economics.
- Persson, T. & Tabellini, G., 1993.
"Is Inequality Harmful for Growth,"
537, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
- Ana M. Aizcorbe & Arthur B. Kennickell & Kevin B. Moore, 2003. "Recent changes in U.S. family finances: evidence from the 1998 and 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-32.
- Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994.
"Distributive Politics and Economic Growth,"
4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
- Massimo Guidolin & Elizabeth A. La Jeunesse, 2007. "The decline in the U.S. personal saving rate: is it real and is it a puzzle?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 491-514.
- Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996.
"The growth of temporary services work,"
Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues
WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Attanasio, Orazio P. & Paiella, Monica, 2001. "Households savings in the U.S.A," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 109-132, March.
- James Livingston, 2009. "Their Great Depression and Ours," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 52(3), pages 34-51, May.
- Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
- Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Brian J. Surette, 2000. "Recent changes in U. S. family finances: results from the 1998 Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-29.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2003.
"Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right,"
Department of Economics University of Siena
409, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2005. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages F397-F412, November.
- Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2004. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2004-14, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
- Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1997. "Family finances in the U.S.: recent evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Jan, pages 1-24.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:amu:wpaper:2009-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Meal)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.