Leading economists are pointing out a new risk to America’s battered economy, still struggling to emerge from the downturn following the 2008 financial crisis. The wealthiest 1% of Americans, who control 43% of the nation’s wealth, are simply not buying enough useless crap to sustain GDP growth commensurate with an economic recovery.
“Our national fiscal health is tied to the purchasing decisions of, conservatively speaking, about 30,000 obscenely wealthy people, concentrated on the coasts, although many of them maintain ski lodges in Aspen and Telluride,” said Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. “We’ve given them income tax breaks, ridiculously low capital gains tax rates, subsidies to their industries, and in some cases, just buckets of taxpayer cash. And the hope is they’ll maybe buy a third yacht to travel between their first two yachts, and that’ll boost the economy, somehow. But it’s not working.”
After purchasing fleets of cars, strings of polo ponies and private jets, many of the richest Americans simply can't think of anything else they want, let alone need. "I mean I even bought a goddamn $40,000 refrigerator with a television in front," said billionaire investor Leon Cooperman. "Who the hell wants to watch TV when you're standing in front of the refrigerator? I'm done."
Economists worry that with cash piling up in tycoons’ savings and investment accounts, the beneficial effects of bankrupting the country so they can hoard historically unprecedented amounts of wealth will not be felt for years, if ever. “I think it’s the patriotic duty of every one of our ruling plutocrats to just buy shit, at random if need be,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. “Pick a number between one and three hundred, call up Neiman Marcus, order up everything on that page of their catalog. Who cares, you guys have no idea what you already own, anyway.”
“Please,” he added.