As I watch the daily network news, and watch the reports on the gyrations of the stock market, imagining the reactions of the viewing audience, I wonder how realistically the news is reported.
One who watches the commercials recognizes that the viewing audience for the "nightly news" must be largely an audience of older adults; the pharmaceutical ads are pretty thick.
One can well assume that a significant portion of this viewing audience might be stock holders, people who live on a fixed income (probably coming mostly from Social Security, with some having supplementation from private pensions and/or IRA holdings.
But putting aside the older skew of the network news audience, how widespread is stock ownership? I came across a pie chart today, which ultimately traces back to the Survey of Consumer Finances. The graphic that prompted this post is at http://inequality.org/wealth-inequality/.
Here's what it shows:
Distribution of U. S. Stock Market Wealth, 2007
- Top 1%: 38.2%
- 90th to 99th percentiles: 43.0% [together: 81.2%]
- 80th to 90th percentiles: 9.9% [cumulative: 91.1%]
- 60th to 80th percentiles: 6.4%
- Bottom 60%: 2.5%
The vast majority of Americans -- the bottom 80% of us -- have 8.9% of the value of the stock market.
When the market gyrates, the direct effects on the bottom 80% are relatively small.
The same webpage shows another piechart, from the same source:
Distribution of U. S. Wealth, 2009
- Top 1%: 35.6%
- Next 4%: 27.9% [together: 63.5%]
- Next 15%: 23.7% [cumulative: 87.2%]
- Bottom 80%: 12.8%