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LA Times – 5 years after financial crash, many losers – and some big winners

Corporate America, banks, the super rich and the index investing concept have gained. Savers, low-skilled workers, many homeowners, and stock exchanges have suffered.

WINNER: The banks. In the second quarter of this year U.S. banks earned a total of $42.2 billion — the biggest industry profit in history, and double the earnings of the same period in 2010. It’s no accident that the banks have prospered mightily since the crash, said Neil Barofsky, who was the watchdog over the U.S. bank bailout program launched in September 2008… LOSER: Savers. The Fed’s decision to keep short-term interest rates near rock bottom for nearly five years has devastated the income of tens of millions of Americans. In the mid-2000s, savers in banks were routinely earning 4% or more on one-year bank certificates of deposit, or $2,000 in annual interest on a $50,000 nest egg. The average rate now: 0.23%, according to The same $50,000 nest egg earns just $115 a year in interest at that rate. “And after inflation they’re actually losing ground,” said Andrew Lo, a finance professor at MIT in Cambridge, Mass… WINNER: Corporate America. Record bank profits are a slice of a much bigger pie — a stunning profit boom at major U.S. corporations. The government’s broadest measure of corporate earnings reached an annualized rate of $2.1 trillion in the second quarter, an all-time high and more than double the rate at the end of 2008. The dramatic rebound in earnings has occurred despite a slow-growing U.S. economy and continued weakness abroad, particularly in Europe…LOSER: Low-skilled workers. Five years after the crash, perhaps the greatest disappointment worldwide has been the lack of job creation. In the U.S. the official unemployment rate has fallen from a high of 10% in 2009 to 7.3%. But the decline has come in part because many dejected jobless have simply dropped out of the labor force. A broader unemployment rate, including so-called discouraged workers, stands at a painful 13.7%.”

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