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that billionaire cronies constrain economic growth, while billionaires who aren’t cronies on average don’t do so. Why are these findings important for the rest of us? They indicate that public policy toward income and wealth distribution needs to take into account the nature of wealth accumulation.
They also relate directly to the findings of economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Thomas Piketty. They predicted that we live in a world where the rich will get richer faster, which has proved true, and that we ought to develop tax policies that prevent the poor from becoming ever poorer. The implications for countries such as the United States and others where political cronyism only plays a minor role in wealth attainment are no less dramatic.
Americans, in particular, have been taught to think that billionaires have a positive effect on the economy. Why? Because they are “exceptional” people who have proved that they can accomplish great things. The key finding that, on average, they have an insignificant effect on growth prospects, even in the case of the politically unconnected, represents a huge negative surprise for supporters of the billionaire class.

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