The Occupy Wall Street movement has brought a torrent of data concerning the infamous 1 percent of American households. More than three out of five respondents to a Washington Post/ABC News poll say that the gap between the rich and everyone else has never been larger. Well, it is large, especially when looking over a 30-year horizon, but as the WSJ's Robert Frank points out, inequality is actually lower than it was four years ago.
According to the IRS, people making more than $500,000 accounted for 27% of the nation's income in 2007. In 2009, the latest year available, their share fell by nearly half, to 14%, due largely to income declines at the top. Those making $200,000 saw a similar decline. In 2007, they accounted for 41% of the nation's income. By 2009, their share had shrunk to 26% -- the same level it was in 2000.
Frank's larger point, which he lays out in his new book "The High-Beta Rich," is that the very wealthy go through proportionately greater highs and lows than everyone else - and that such volatility eventually impacts the overall economy.