The gap between rich and poor will continue to grow

Thomas Pascoe writes: The world’s rich are getting richer. The Forbes billionaire list was published this morning (there are now 1,426 of them globally in dollar terms, with 210 new entrants in the last year), and collectively they are $800bn richer than they were a year ago. Each billionaire is, on average, $100m richer than in 2011, with an average wealth of $3.7bn.

It can hardly be a surprise. Across the world, stock markets are booming (Dow futures indicate it will open today around the 14,170 mark, a new record). Bond prices are also strong in developed markets despite those same sovereigns usually being mired in a debt crisis. At the same, no major currency has collapsed, thanks to the cancellation effect of simultaneous Western devaluation, and commodities (WTI crude is perhaps the exception), have looked fairly stable, even though the bull run has stopped. In short, if you have any asset base at all, you had to be quite special to have lost money in the last year.

Strong stocks and strong bonds are an unusual mix. Theoretically and historically, money has washed from one to the other causing rises and falls along the way. What is unusual about the present climate is that so much money has been created by central banks that there is sufficient available to create a bubble in, well, everything. [Continue reading…]

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