Visualizing The Unfudged Truth About American Income, And Some Trivia On The Uber-Wealthy:
When it comes to manipulating income and wealth data, the government and the BLS are second to none (well, maybe only second to China but we digress): after all there is nothing that gets Americans to spend more than thinking Joe Blow down the street may outspend them. And at 70% of GDP, Americans have to consume. And what better way to do that, than to fill the airwaves with propaganda that spending is going up, up, up (even if said surge is nowhere to be seen). So far so good. Yet one place where nominal and real income data can absolutely not be fudged is the Social Security Average Wage Index based on withholding data reported by employers, particularly the median wage, whose nominal change can then be extrapolated in real terms using CPI to create a chained series. And here is where things get messy: as John Lohman demonstrates in the chart below, real income based on median wages, dropped (in real terms) by 1.2% - the biggest year over year slide in over 20 years of data, which is surely news to Joe Blow, whose impetus to spend, spend, spend would be substantially less, if the awareness was there that everyone is making and thus spending less, which in turn would lead to even more accelerated deleveraging, which would ultimately lead to a faster return to the mean for the overall economy: a mean which is sustainable without constant monetary and fiscal intervention. And yes, there will be lots of pain in the transition from the current Frankenstein state to a true equilibrium state - something that Ron Paul has been pounding the table on for years, and is the reason why unfortunately he is unelectable - Americans can not stand to hear the truth. For this and more factual trivia, see the chart below.
And as a tangential twist, here is nominal data on America's uber-wealthy, those making over $50 million, and those in the crosshairs of every daily bout of class warfare. The chart below breaks down both the number of total wage earners in the bucket per year, but also the actual compensation per earner. What may come as a big surprise is that while the number of uber-rich workers has roughly followed the gyrations of the market, the average reported compensation, at "just" $79.6 million, has dropped back to 1997 levels! Many questions arise: are the wealthiest just withholding far less; have they discovered new and improved ways to cook the books and minimize their total reported income; or, maybe they are just making less?
h/t John Lohman