Ajay Kapur, global strategist at Citigroup, and his research team came up with the term “Plutonomy” in 2005 to describe a country that is defined by massive income and wealth inequality. According to their definition, the U.S. is a Plutonomy, along with the U.K., Canada and Australia.
In a series of research notes over the past year, Kapur and his team explained that Plutonomies have three basic characteristics.
1. They are all created by “disruptive technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, capitalist friendly cooperative governments, immigrants…the rule of law and patenting inventions. Often these wealth waves involve great complexity exploited best by the rich and educated of the time.”
2. There is no “average” consumer in Plutonomies. There is only the rich “and everyone else.” The rich account for a disproportionate chunk of the economy, while the non-rich account for “surprisingly small bites of the national pie.” Kapur estimates that in 2005, the richest 20% may have been responsible for 60% of total spending.
3. Plutonomies are likely to grow in the future, fed by capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity and globalization.
Here is a mention of Ireland – of note to all those who warned about wage deflation in recent referenda:
The final option for countries willing to consider it, is to in-source labor. For example, in the UK, between May 2004 accession of the 10 new countries into the EU, and March 2005, 176,000 workers have moved from the accession countries to the UK and joined the workforce. Leaving aside any demand benefits they might bring, this does, in theory keep the price of labor contained. It interests us that the Plutonomy countries (U.S.A, UK, Australia, and Canada) all have – generally – a welcoming attitude to skilled immigration. Of the pre-accession EU 15 countries, only a handful, the UK and Ireland included allow full and free labor movement from the new EU 10 countries into their labor markets. The vast majority, Germany, Austria, Italy etc., are refusing to allow accession countries full freedom of movement until 2009-11.