What if the securitization of everything was a natural reaction to rising inequality? My attempt to put the desire for ownership in perspective of macroeconomic theory.

In 2013, economist Thomas Piketty published Capital in the Twenty-First Century with a simple but powerful equation. (The book is surprisingly accessible for a 700-page macroeconomic text).

r > g

When the rate of return (r) is greater than the rate of economic growth (g) over the long term, the result is a concentration of wealth, and this unequal distribution of wealth can cause social and economic instability.

Another way to put this is that the return from having capital (through interest, stocks, housing, or other assets) will outpace the return from labor (i.e. working). When this happens, "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" (the Matthew Effect, no relation to this Matt).

Piketty's theory captured public interest in a way that no macroeconomist has since. It wasn't without its critiques – much of the return on capital could be attributed to home prices, and the top 1% is still made up by mostly salaries [1].

Let's suspend disbelief and assume Piketty was correct. What if inequality was an inevitable side-product of capitalism? The Gini coefficient is increasing and rising inequality can be seen from education to the markets. Piketty's solution was more progressive taxes. I believe the market is coming to its own answer.

At the core of the securitization of everything is a desire for ownership. I'm not sure what end of the r > g equation this supports.

On one hand, it clearly unlocks new r for new investors – even the smallest investors can access more asset classes and potentially put more of their capital or expertise to work.

On the other hand, it increases g in a variety of ways. Creating liquid markets. New technology shows up in our productivity measure (TFP) eventually. While we can't measure improvement from a free service like Google directly, the securitization and ownership of all things might let us track it more easily.

Is it adding to inequality or an attempt to solve it? Looking at some of the individual movements like cryptocurrency and retail investing, no.

Ethereum's Gini Coefficient: Source

While I don't think this disproves securitization as a reaction to inequality, the key statistic missing is to whom these returns are accruing to. Usually, many of these asset classes are only accessible to accredited or investors with capital advantages. Many of these new securities have the opposite effect: they are currently inaccessible to the institutional investors.

So the new era of ownership will be interesting. Will it restore balance to r = g? Or skew society further into r > g? Regardless, everything be securitized.