Before the recession, in 2005, Ajay Kapur and his team of analysts at Citigroup came up with the term "plutonomy" to describe the U.S. economy. It defines a country where most of the wealth is controlled and owned by a minority of the population. Kapur has predicted that capitalism will continue to fuel the U.S. plutonomy, making spending and debt levels by the wealthy more important to the economy as a whole.
But Americans' belief in capitalism is waning, even as other countries are embracing it, according to The Economist. In 2010, polling firm GlobeScan reported that 59 percent of Americans agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" that the free market was the best system for the world's future. That's down from the results in 2002, when 80 percent agreed with that statement. Among poorer Americans (under $20,000 income), faith in capitalism fell from 76 percent to 44 percent in one year.
Germany now has the greatest support for capitalism, followed by Brazil and China, which both enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years, according to The Economist. Even Italy shows more favor toward the free market than the U.S.
Perhaps as the economy improves, so will belief in capitalism. I, for one, cannot think of a better alternative. As Winston Churchill reportedly said in a speech to the House of Commons, "the inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries."
Which would you rather have?
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