Of the One, by the One… for the 1%
Protests in the United States against the plutocracy (the “99% movement”) are truly an unprecedented thing to observe. #OccupyWallStreet, as Dailykos contributor @Unaspencer (whom I had the opportunity to meet during the Netroots Nation at Minneapolis) explained it has to do with more than just unfair taxation, and I assumed she was referring to a demand for fairer society with more social justice. Given the quasi-impunity many bankers enjoyed after the ’08 credit crunch, the swift downgrade of US debt credit rating could be seen as double standards -although the same document pointed out that the blame was to be laid on the Republicans congress for their stalwart refusal to “continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues”.
In Morocco, we do not have these problems; after all, stock markets do not contribute a lot to GDP, and banks remain a lot more regulated under domestic regulations; furthermore, it is a well-known fact Moroccan assets are over-valued, and so remain unattractive to foreign investors. And yet, we have a small minority of wealthy households, with an average income well above MAD 200,000 per annum (and I have restricted myself to the top 10% only).
Those incomes earned on Casablanca Stock Exchange are even heftier, and benefit to an handful of privileged few.
We consider the MASI (Moroccan All Shares Index) Gross and Net returns: as late as December 2010, the Market valuation for MASI dividends increased 32% over the year, and considering the MASI’s valuation at the same time (MAD 129,25 Bn) the dividend value for late 2010 was MAD 31Bn for all MASI shareholders. This figure is very close to the effective paid dividends for at the same period, thus vindicating the computation of a “MASI Dividend index” and the claim of a very favourable tax deductions system applied to financial assets.
31 Bn is not such a big deal, after all: that’s about 5.1% of total GNI. The figure in itself is ambiguous, in the sense that it translates the relatively weak penetration of financial assets in gross income formation, as well as the relatively stable requirement of required capital returns from an economy like Morocco’s. Alternatively, it is only too much to be shared by a small group of wealthy individuals who, basically, concentrate as much income as 20% of the population. The question remains: how many of these über-rich own it? Also, it is safe to assume the vast majority of shareholders are not small ones; by all means, as a matter of fact, two individuals and three companies alone own 83% of all shares listed on Casablanca Stock Exchange. That’s a lot.
Large companies in Morocco also have a certain habit to display concentrated shareholding (usually other companies and holdings, a bit like SNI, who controls between 44% and 57% of total market capitalization) which makes it both easier and more difficult to get a precise overview of how concentrated wealth is among the top 10%; it is easier because these companies are ultimately owned by a handful of individuals, and more difficult because one exhausts very quickly the information yielded in publicly available documents.
And so, even among the 10% wealthiest, concentration is insanely high; and that’s not even the “We are the 1%”, it actually goes down to a lot less than that, and they can get away with it, not least because of the generous fiscal regulations.