Americans Make Up Half of World's Richest 1%, World Bank Economist

Friday, 06 Jan 2012 07:35 AM

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Occupy Wall Street Protesters need to occupy a mirror and look deep into its reflection before complaining of hardship, because by world standards, a good chunk of them probably are one percenters themselves, a World Bank economist concludes.

A person needs to take in $34,000 a year, after taxes, to be among the richest 1 percent in the world, and as of 2005 — the most recent data available — about half of them, or 29 million, lived in the United States, according to calculations by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic in his book "The Haves and the Have-Nots," CNNMoney reports.

Another four million live in Germany, and the rest are scattered across the globe.

"It doesn't seem right to define as middle class, people who would be on food stamps in the United States," Milanovic says.

The Occupy Wall Street movement reflects a deepening polarization and political paralysis in Western politics, experts say, and it won't end until real change comes to the political establishment

"Without decisive direction and leadership, we march in place or attempt to muddle through, uncertain of which path to take. The West is at such a moment," says Heather Conley, a former U.S. Under Secretary of State for European Affairs and now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, according to Reuters.

"Only an external shock I fear will force us to take the uncertain (new) path. Or we will become so frustrated that the West will choose leaders who will take us in a radically new direction. I'm not sure our frustration level has reached that level, yet. But Europe may be arriving there soon."

© 2014 Moneynews. All rights reserved.

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