According to data recently released from the Federal Reserve, a smaller percentage of Americans owns stock today than has at any time since 1998. The news is may come as a surprise to some, since certainly, the stock market is rising, and stocks only rise when there are more buyers than sellers. In fact, there can be more sellers than buyers, as long as the buyers are wealthier, and hence, able to buy more shares than the sellers are selling.
Below: the percentage of Americans who own stock, measured in three year increments.
This is a significant trend, and it is related both to the widening wealth gap in America, and amount of money companies are spending on share-repurchases. The stock market is one of the only pies in America's economy that seems to be growing; perhaps some assumptions need to change if it turns out, as it now appears, that the pie is not really growing, but merely being cut into larger slices, to be consumed by fewer mouths.
Julian Close has been a business writer since the first day of the twenty-first century, having written for PRA International and the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping. He graduated from Davidson College in 1993 and received a Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College in 2011. He became a stockbroker in 1993, but now works for Fresh Brewed Media and uses his powers only for good. You can see closing trades for all Julian's long and short positions and track his long term performance via twitter: @JulianClose_MIC.