Rich People in America Have Too Much Money, Says the World's Second-Richest Man, Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett plays bridge during the Berkshire annual meeting weekend in Omaha, Nebraska, May 3, 2015. Rick Wilking/Reuters

One big problem in America is that while there is plenty of money, rich people have too much of it. So says the world's second-richest man, Warren Buffett. The 86-year-old CEO of investing house Berkshire Hathaway has a net worth of $75.6 billion, according to Forbes, and he says massive sums like that are the reason why many people are struggling to get by.

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"The real problem, in my view, is the prosperity has been unbelievable for the extremely rich people," he told PBS Newshour Monday.

"If you go to 1982, when Forbes put on their first 400 list, those people had $93 billion. Now they have $2.4 trillion, [a multiple of] 25 for one. This has been a prosperity that's been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top."

Since the 1980s, the richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their share of total income roughly double, to 20 percent. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent have seen their share decline in a big way, to 12 percent from 20 percent. Inequality in America is now even more pronounced than in China.

"The economy is doing well, but all Americans aren't doing well," Buffett added. "But we have got $57,000 or $58,000 of [gross domestic product] per person. That is a lot of stuff."

Buffett said that the inequality is a natural result of an evolving economy in the U.S., but that more needs to be done in order to help those who have seen their jobs go by the wayside.

"We actually export 12 or 13 percent of our GDP," he said. "It was only 5 percent in 1970. But it benefits us. It benefits the rest of the world. It doesn't benefit the steelworker maybe in Ohio. And that's the problem that has to be addressed because when you have something that's good for society, but terribly harmful for given individuals, we have got to make sure those individuals are taken care of."

Buffett pointed out that the economy has been growing since 2009, following the recession the previous year. Since entering the White House in January, and even before, President Trump has been quick to claim credit for any sign of further improvement in the economy.

The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index for December surged nearly four points to 113.7, THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2016

Buffett, though, urged Trump to be careful what he claimed responsibility for.

"If I ever get elected president, I will never claim credit for anything the market does, because I don't want to be blamed when it goes the other direction," he said.