Sunday, October 16, 2011

What are the protestors protesting?

For a funny take on the protestors, watch Stephen Colbert in action:
Colbert Nation (9-21-2011) Wall Street under Siege

For a serious take on the protestors, with LOTS of charts read:
Business Insider (10-11-2011) CHARTS: Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About...

This article provides the facts that the protestors have yet to clearly articulate.
Note: figure numbers below represent the order of figures in the article, and not the labels given in the article (many graphs are not labeled with a number).  If I were presenting the protestors' case, the graphs that I would focus on are:

1. Figure 10: CEO salary as percent of average workers
This has been increasing dramatically. Perhaps shareholders should be protesting too.

2. Figure 15: Chance of upward mobility (probability of rising to top 40% of income distribution)
This is now much lower than it was in the 1950's (though it hasn't changed much recently).

3. Figure 24: Bank lending
Bank lending after the bailout has been weak, lower than before the crisis, despite large profits. One of the major goals of the bailout was to increase bank lending.

4. Figure 30 (the last figure): Wages as share of the economy
This has been falling since 1970. The article calls this figure the "money shot".

Questions for students:
1. Did any of the graphs surprise you?
2. Did you find any of the graphs to be misleading?
3. Are there other related graphs you would like to see?

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