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Conor Sen

The 2010s May Have Been the Best It Gets for the Rich

Gains for markets and real estate are slowing while low-wage workers will get bigger raises. 

Gilded Age.

Gilded Age.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

It's been a great decade for the rich. Their financial assets have surged in value, fueled by a stock market at record highs, low interest rates and President Donald Trump's tax cuts. Yet under the surface there are signs that their great run might be winding down and that 2020 could be a year when the wealthy endure some setbacks, giving everyone else a chance to do some catching up.

The good times for the wealthy were largely a function of the long recovery from the financial crisis. In 2010, corporate profits and the stock market had yet to rebound from the Great Recession. The same goes for home prices. Yet the fortunes for the wealthy recovered faster than those for everyone else. Home prices in New York and San Francisco, which didn't fall as much during the crash as elsewhere, rose faster than in other markets as well-educated millennial workers flocked to jobs in those cities and wealthy foreigners bought luxury dwellings. Corporate profits bounced back quickly as revenues recovered faster than employment and wages, sending the stock market to new highs by 2013.