A persistent topic of discussion with my once-a-week lunch partner is whether or not the elite is aware of economic inequality. Are they aware of inequality and choose to do nothing about it, or are they so sheltered they don’t even see the grotesque levels of inequality the current economic and social system has produced?
Well, to judge by the latest Global Risks report from the World Economic Forum (pdf), economic inequality has appeared from nowhere and has jumped to the head of queue for the last three years. (And it’s now joined, in third position, by unemployment and underemployment.)
However, as you can see from the chart below, inequality doesn’t even figure in terms of the significance of the impact, with the highest spot occupied by fiscal crises, after many years of focus on financial crises.
One interpretation of this disjuncture between the high likelihood but low impact of inequality is that the members of the global elite are well aware of the growing gap between the tiny group at the top and everyone else but it’s not really a pressing problem. It’s simply their reward of how the economic and social system is currently organized.