Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods
Five families own more than 20% of the UK do? Rubbish
Sweden is a hotbed of inequality
We measure inequality by the gini index (or ratio, and wealth ratios are always much more unequal than income ones) where 1.0 indicates that one person has all the income of the nation and 0 tells us there is perfect equality of income.
Can you say "pissing this up the wall?"
We can also measure the gini for market incomes or for incomes after all taxes and benefits. The difference between the two will clearly be the amount of redistribution that is going on.
Among the advanced industrial countries the market ginis are all from the high .30s to the high .40s. Yes, amazingly, the market distribution of incomes in, say, Sweden, is not all that different from that in the UK – and wealth inequality is higher in Sweden than here. The post redistribution ones range from the low .20s to the high .30s.
The actual IMF finding was that moving the gini more than around 13 points through this tax-and-spend redistribution is the excessive kind that harms growth. Meaning that the UK is over this limit while the US is still just under it. And Sweden's wildly over it, of course.
The reason I object to Oxfam doing this sort of stuff is not purely that I'm an ageing reactionary who insists they should get back to feeding the starving. It's also because they're really not very good at this sort of thing. I mean, seriously, when you've got an arch liberal like Jonathan Portes making fun of your pretensions to left-liberalness you really should be able to understand that you're failing somewhat. ®
Interestingly, seven hours after I pointed out to Oxfam that they seemed ignorant of this negative wealth point they're still assuring me that they're looking into it and will get back to me.
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