As things fall apart, the super-rich spend $2m on whisky. We need a wealth tax | Owen Jones

All that frittered wealth could be used to help with the economic recovery from the pandemic instead

You may need a stiff drink to believe this. Last October, a new record was set: a cask of Macallan 1991 whisky sold for a cool $2.33m. At least this was an entire cask of premium liquor: earlier last year, a luxury case of 30-year-old Irish malt featuring a gold Fabergé egg was auctioned off for $2m, only slightly more than a single bottle of scotch at the end of 2019.

Is whisky really worth 2m big ones? As any economist will tell you, the value of something is determined by how much someone is prepared to pay for it, and all that money sloshing around at the top has to go somewhere. The crises of our time have been kind to the uber-rich: while British workers have suffered a near unprecedented squeeze in their wages, the richest 1,000 people saw their fortunes double in the first seven years after the financial crash. Covid has proved little different: Britain produced a record number of new billionaires in the pandemic, while their US counterparts enjoyed almost a two-thirds jump in their wealth during the first 18 months of the crisis. At $4.8tn, the combined fortunes of US billionaires are almost equivalent to the size of the entire Japanese economy.

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