Wealth is the value of everything you own: stocks, bonds, your home, your car -- minus your debts. And while income inequality has taken center stage in debates about the growing gap between rich and poor, what's happening with wealth paints an even more staggering picture.
The wealth share of the 0.01 percent, or the top 16,000 families in America, has skyrocketed. That tiny group now owns 12 percent of the wealth in America.
The wealth of the larger one percent -- and even the .5 percent -- isn't rising.
These days, if you want to be among the biggest winners, says UC Berkeley researcher Gabriel Zucman, who co-wrote a new report on wealth, it helps to be in the 0.1 percent or better.
Around 50 percent of the US population, Zucman said, has zero net wealth. Their debts, effectively, equal their assets.
Two things Netflix-related happened last week. One, Netflix released a trailer for the new season of Orange is the New Black. Two, we got more evidence that Netflix is the new cable.
“People who use Netflix or Hulu are actually almost three times more likely to be in that cord cutter segment,” says John Fetto, senior analyst at Experian Marketing Services. Its data in a new report show nearly 1 in 5 homes with a Netflix or Hulu subscription has no cable.
Until now, he says, those cord cutters were more hype than reality. “We had never actually seen a real uptick in our data. It was always within the margin of error,” Fetto says.
But now, he says about six and a half percent of households have only internet service—that’s two and a half million more than in 2010. Not everyone is swayed, though. Live TV still has its perks.
“Consumers want local news. They want live sports,” says Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates. He says some TV viewers are downgrading instead of cutting their cable when they sign up for Netflix.
And, of course, Netflix wins either way.
As Americans buy more mobile devices, the airwaves become even more crowded with signals trying to reach their destination as fast as possible. Those airwaves carrying transmissions back and forth are referred to as "spectrum," and mobile providers like AT&T and Verizon can't get enough of them.
That's why the FCC is planning on purchasing spectrum from TV broadcasters and selling it to mobile broadband providers. It sounds like an easy solution to a big problem.
As chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Tom Wheeler said when he appeared on Marketplace Tech back in November:
"That, hopefully, will be a marketplace means of determining what the highest and best use of the spectrum is, and then we will take that spectrum -- which we have bought back -- and resell it to the wireless carriers to be able to meet the climbing demand for wireless services."
However, Brian Fung, a technology reporter for the Washington Post, says it's not that simple. According to Fung:
"There are two big wireless companies: Verizon and AT&T, and they want to buy up as much spectrum as they can get. On the other side you have smaller companies like Sprint and T-Mobile who say that they’re going to be shut out of the bidding opportunities if AT&T and Verizon are allowed to buy up as much as they want."
Even more troubling is the possibility that companies like AT&T and Verizon could buy up a bunch of spectrum, and then simply not use it -- instead opting to hold onto it so that other companies don't have access to more spectrum.
Still, that won't stop the larger companies from participating. AT&T has threatened to pull out of the auction if it doesn't get its way, and that would be bad news for the Government. The FCC needs larger companies to participate in order to make the auction profitable.
The U.S. mainland's only Asian-majority congressional district sits in California's Silicon Valley, where two Indian-American candidates are trying to oust Japanese-American Congressman Mike Honda.
Fortune 1000 companies rely on the open source software OpenSSL for their core business. Two-thirds of websites use it. But no one pays for it and it's never had a complete security audit.
More Americans are saving for retirement through their employers' 401(k) programs. That follows a move to automatically sign up workers to participate in the retirement savings plans.
When adults are absorbed in their mobile devices, the consequences for children are not good. Research shows kids act out more if they are competing with a mobile device for their parent's attention.