Ray Dalio, the Westport hedge fund executive whose wealth is estimated at $17 billion, has identified income inequality as the most severe problem facing Americans.
Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund with roughly $160 billion in assets, argued that the gap between the rich and everyone else has become acutely dangerous.
“I think the greatest issue of our time is the disparity of wealth and the problems that exist for the lower 40 percent of the population,” said Dalio. “If you carve out that lower 40 percent, not only has there been no income growth, but death rates are rising because of opiate use, suicide and because they’re losing jobs. This is the biggest issue of our time – the biggest economic issue, the biggest political issue and the biggest social issue.”
MarketWatch noted that U.S. income inequality grew by nearly 30 percent between the early 1960s and 2014, with a decline in labor unions seen as a major factor. Dalio made his observations at an event for Grameen America, an affiliate of the Bangladeshi microlending institution Grameen Bank that has financed entrepreneurship among impoverished women. Dalio said he hoped to expand the Grameen model throughout the U.S. market, where it operates in 13 cities.
“I know of no model that is better than this one,” Dalio said. “The women all root for each other and hold each other accountable, and they make it work all around. Not only does this model fund itself, but it has an impact on the people who need the money the most.”