It's a matter of time before disaster strikes. Ten years into the country's economic expansion—the longest in its history—much-watched economic indicators have begun to suggest that a recession is coming and the good times may soon be over. To even call these the salad days is to reveal a callous lack of regard for Americans at the lower end of the economic spectrum who have not experienced the benefits of this economy in proportion to those at the top.
That is the unavoidable conclusion left to careful readers of the Wall Street Journal's dispatch on the looming disaster represented by America's chasmic wealth (as opposed to income) inequality gap. “Wealth, also called net worth,” the dispatch clarifies, “is the value of assets such as houses, savings, and stocks minus debt such as mortgages and credit-card balances.” By that measure, America's wealthiest are doing better than ever. Their assets are measured not in liquidity and fixed assets like real estate but stocks, bonds, or return-yielding investments in private businesses. Meanwhile, those in the bottom 50 percent, for whom “wealth” consists of some savings and a single-family home, are uniquely exposed in the event of a downturn.