[OPE] New buzzword: Knight Frank on "plutonomies"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Sun Jun 01 2008 - 16:05:17 EDT

Plutonomies are countries where the wealthy have
a disproportionate slice of economic wealth. This is not a unique
historic phenomenon. In some ways the drift towards a much
more egalitarian wealth structure in the twentieth century could
be seen as an aberration. It certainly is not the pattern of
previous centuries.

Such concentrations of wealth in plutonomies have a huge
impact on savings and consumption patterns. In these
economies, growth is powered and consumed by the very
wealthy. Its opposite model, the egalitarian economy, has simply
not seen such wealth concentration. Japan and most of
continental Europe are examples of such egalitarian economies.
To illustrate this trend, the top 1% of households (by wealth) in
the UK have increased their share of national income
dramatically in recent years, from a low of 6% of national income
in 1978 to 13% in recent years. This is not far short of the 15%
seen in the US (Figure 01). This experience is totally unlike
continental Europe, where the share of wealth held by the top
1% of households has declined or at best stabilised in recent
years (Figure 02).

What drives an economy to become a plutonomy?

Plutonomies rely on the presence of several factors to invigorate
wealth. These include creative financial innovation, technologically
driven productivity gains, capitalist friendly government, light
touch regulation and an open attitude to sourcing international
talent via immigration.

The UK and the US have been very successful in two critical
areas for plutonomy development. New media technologies
have had a significant impact on wealth creation (internet
downloading, cable and satellite TV). These outlets have
massively increased market size and media audiences. The
result has been the creation of new types of high wealth
occupations in sports, music, television, film, fashion and design.
The second area is the rise of occupations such as the legal and
financial intermediaries, seen crowding into central London, who
help realise the potential for the globalisation of production and
consumption. All contribute to the development of the
plutonomy model.

The future.

We predict that such wealth inequality will only increase. The UK
will see a continued development in this direction. Wealth from
the US, Europe, Russia, Middle East and Asia circles the world
and a large proportion is invested either through, or in London.
The ranks of the wealthy in the plutonomy are growing. It is in
cities and locations characterised by global outlook and activity
where we will see this trend most.

Where are the next plutonomies?

Eastern Europe appears to be embracing many of the
characteristics of a plutonomy. Russia is the classic emerging
plutonomy, and China and India are following closely.
Over the last two decades where the plutonomy model has
been developing, the wider population has seen the benefits of
economic growth. The wealth pie has become larger for just
about everyone. This growth will continue and we will see
ongoing serious wealth concentrations in the plutonomies. Only
significant political change will affect this trend.


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