20 Interesting Things about the Economy

20. CEOs of S&P 500 companies are entitled to receive an average of $22 million upon being fired, according to GMI. “In total, it would cost shareholders $10.8 billion to fire the CEOs of all of the companies in the S&P 500,” it writes.

19. One percent of households captured 52% of all income gains from 1993-2008.

18. Just 400 people earned 10% of all capital gains in 2007. Between 2000 and 2007, the top 400 taxpayers captured about 2% of all economic growth.

17. People spend their money on different sets of goods and services. The richest 10% of Americans had an inflation rate that was about 6% higher than the bottom 10% between 1994 and 2005.

16. According to former White House budget advisor Peter Orszag: “In 1990, about 63 percent of business income in the U.S. took the form of wages and other types of labor compensation. … By 2005, that figure had dropped to 61 percent. And by the middle of this year, it had fallen to 58 percent. … The difference from 1990 to today — about 5 percentage points or so of private-sector income — amounts to more than $500 billion a year.”

15. Private jobs growth over the past two years has been faster than it was from 2001-2003. Public job losses have been a major factor in our current jobs crisis.

14. If federal, state, and local governments hadn’t been slashing jobs since 2009, today’s unemployment rate would be nearly a full percentage point lower.

13. The White House — famously optimistic throughout all administrations — forecasts that the unemployment rate won’t return to pre-recession levels until 2016.

12. According to the National Review, “[General Motors ] has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people.”

11. While gold hit record highs this summer, the yield on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, implied a forecast of near record low inflation.

10. According to author Matt Ridley, it took an average person 4,700 hours of work to afford a Ford (NYSE: F ) Model T in 1908. Today, it takes an average person 1,000 hours of work to afford an ordinary car.

9. Adjusted for inflation, the first Apple Macintosh cost $5,440. Today’s iPad costs $500, and is outrageously more advanced.

8. About half of all Tweets are derived from 20,000 people — or just 0.05% of Twitter members.

7. UBS estimates that illegal lending in China amounts to $630 billion a year, or about 10% of the country’s gross domestic product.

6. Only 2.7% of what Americans spend their money on are goods and services from China. 88.5% is on American-made goods and services.

5. Cash flow among S&P 500 companies set a new all-time record last year, at $1.2 trillion.

4. Between dividends and buybacks, S&P 500 companies returned $4.3 trillion to shareholders from 2003 to 2010.

3. According to the Hedge Fund Research index, hedge funds as a group returned 19.6% between March 2009 and May 2011. Broad stock market indexes in the developed world returned 114% during that period.

2. Food prices invariably come up when people talk about inflation. But average disposable income has risen twice as fast as food prices over the past 50 years. There’s been fairly steady food deflation over time.

1. America is still by far the largest economy in the world, nearly three times the size of China’s or Japan’s economy, and nearly five times the size of Germany’s. We have the best schools, the deepest financial system, the most advanced innovation, and the brightest entrepreneurs.