Tags: Konheim | 99% | wealth | poverty

Nicole Miller CEO to the 99 Percent: Appreciate What You've Got

By Dan Weil   |   Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 11:23 AM

Bud Konheim, CEO of luxury-fashion company Nicole Miller, has little tolerance for complaints from the 99 percent about their financial situation.

Most of the world would view them as wealthy, he tells CNBC.

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"So we're talking about woe is me, woe is us, woe is this. . . . The guy that's making $35,000 a year, why don't we try that out in India or some countries we can't even name. China, anyplace, the guy is wealthy."

Technically Konheim is right. In the United States it takes $500,000 of annual income to be in the top 1 percent, but in the rest of the world, it's $34,000 a year, Branko Milanovic, a World Bank economist, tells CNBC.

To be sure, living expenses are higher in the United States than less developed nations, so $35,000 a year goes a lot further in those economies than here at home.

Meanwhile, Robert Samuelson of The Washington Post says it's wrong to argue that Americans' borrowing binge of the 2000s stemmed from growing income inequality — "a need by poorer Americans to keep up with the Joneses," as he put it.

"If this had been the case, cities, counties and states where inequality was greatest would have experienced the largest increases in debt among lower-income households," Samuelson writes.

"A just-released study from the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes that this didn’t happen."

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