Inequality – how wealth becomes power (1/3) | DW Documentary (poverty richness documentary)

this is the airfield for private jets at düsseldorf Airport entrepreneur Christoph gröna is one of Germany's super-rich people who have a lot of say in this country but a rarely heard in public corner is worth millions and private assets and company shares all of it and self-made [Music] let's say you have 250 million you could throw it out the window and it'll come back in through the door you can't destroy it you can buy cars and they go up in value you buy houses and real estate is worth more you buy gold and the gold prices go up you can't destroy money by consuming we've been following coasts of Kona for six months through him and many others this film takes a look at inequality in Germany a first glance Germany is a rich and powerful country full of opportunities but if you look closely you'll see wealth is more unevenly distributed here than in just about any other industrialized country success often depends on your background [Music] why is that do the differences threaten social cohesion and democracy to find some answers we go around the world and speak to a Nobel Prize winner and other experts who have looked deeply into the issue of inequality the world is at a crossroads today people sense that the control of their nation is being stolen from inequality is the most pressing social problem facing us today welcome to the land of inequality [Music] it's almost 8:00 in the morning in Berlin good longer my house the driver is already waiting when the boss comes he has to get moving right away Christophe Colonna a teacher son has made his way to the top often working 20 hours a day he's what's called a high achiever I don't have a driver because I'm lazier I think I'm too good for that on the contrary I like driving I'm a passionate motorist but the question is what does my company pay me for for sitting behind the steering wheel or for working corner earns his money with real estate hardly any company in Germany builds as much as his cg group does and in the housing market the prices only go in one direction upwards his company has just bought a very special building the developer wants to turn their Stieglitz a Keisel office block into the tallest residential tower in the city custom governor is always up for a challenge he wants to run all the way to the top in less than five minutes a race against himself 30 floors 120 meters 600 steps an employee times him with a stopwatch it's half a minute faster than the last time angry well it was pretty perfect but I could still do it better I could still remember back when I was finishing high school I watched Boris Becker when in Wimbledon and I thought just you wait I'll be right up there with you you know today's an apartment here will cost between five and ten thousand euros a square metre from up here corner can look down on many of his construction projects you can actually follow the trail of the last 20 years here in Berlin nearly 4,000 apartments and another 3,000 are under construction we've played a big role in housing construction here one stop this is Coronas headquarters in Berlin every company like this is a realm with the boss at the top and the staff beneath him corners company now employs 500 people they all have good contracts he says the 2015 tax statement from your brother there's a lot to pay one of his most important employees is his personal assistant Angelique Lisa you still in Dusseldorf then he'll be going on to Zurich then tomorrow he'll be back in Berlin Friday and Leipzig and then he'll be away over the long weekend and what about sleep not a lot there are rumors of between four and six hours I also don't think it'll be much more depending on how busy he is or whether he's traveling you can tell from when his emails arrive I'm an assistant like her has at least the same level of stress I have the boss is only as good as his assistant you don't notice it with her she's only been in the job for a few months so she's still fresh but she also has the Constitution for it Mario Lauterbach guards the door downstairs he's had a permanent contract as a security guard for half a year benzine outside gets in yeah but I went to school for 14 years I speak two or three foreign languages so if I ever got the opportunity again and had the initiative I could imagine becoming a lawyer or a judge that's something that interests me a lot latter Bach earns about 2,000 euros a month gross that's enough for a modest life but not much more his boss on the other hand has been able to build up millions of euros and assets can the guard live on what he earns from me that's what counts if he can then I've done my job as an employer if I pay a guard so little that he can't live off a salary then I've done something wrong so you think comparing him with you is nonsense of course it's nonsense I've stayed home from work due to sickness three times in 30 years ask my guard how many times he's been out sick if I have a slipped disc I come to work if I have a 40 degree fever I come to work if my wife quarrels with me and keeps me up all night I still come to work ask my security guard comparing us isn't fair or correct justification is miscarriage dismissed fish dish will he ever be able to afford a house with a pool of course not but he does not want that I know my security guards I know my caretakers would you like to trade places with her groaner didn't say yes right away I guess if I had to answer spontaneously my first answer would be no and I believe if I thought about it for a long time it would still be no that's actually got a lot less to do with him as a person or what he does it's just a question of my own attitude I wouldn't want to have that much responsibility would you like to have a house with the pool yes but then maybe not here in Germany where in Greece so whereas the one can only dream of a house with a pool the other can afford several properties Kristoff corner has a villa in Berlin and a penthouse in Cologne with a view of the cathedral but little time off how much distance should there be between those in the middle and those at the top and how big is the gap in reality there's a lot of data about poverty in the poor but very little about the rich estate asset registry would help but there isn't one and so a team from the German Institute for Economic Research is trying to find out more if you try to represent the wealth distribution in Germany in a graphic way you can do it quite simply on an a4 sheet of paper and a few look you can imagine a coordinate system like at school with an x-axis and a y-axis and with the y-axis this here I show the amount of wealth you can easily display ninety-five percent of the population on this sheet here in the – area because a part of the population is in debt or even insolvent and then there's a relatively broad area where assets are virtually zero until it finally starts to increase exponentially at the outer edge instructors this describes 95 percent of the population but the question is of course how far away is the richest person from this manager magazine puts the Reimann family business at the top of its rich list for Germany the family's estimated worth thirty three billion euros so if 95 percent of Germans are graphed on an a4 sheet that aemon's would be a whopping six point six kilometers further away every era has its mother lode in the past car makers made big money earlier still the families who owned the big trading houses became hugely wealthy now real estate developers have joined them gustaf corners rice began here in leipzig 20 years ago he invested when prices below it was all ruins or scrap [Music] I love everything you see to the left and right has been redeveloped built and rented out by us his company says it now builds one in three new apartments in the city but coast of Cavanaugh's Korea has been unusual he was not born a boss he used to work on construction sites himself every other stone has been replaced here with expertise with a sense of proportion to create an entirety and it helps if you have worked on scaffolding like this yourself I can do masonry I can lay concrete I can lay steel I can plaster walls lay tiles put up the sods that was my career the company started out as christophe grew nabokov Steen's to building services then we took on specialized construction then contractor work and project development until we became the company that we are today Kona has also invested in this former industrial district this is the class family Thomas and Kirkland with their two children they live in a rented apartment around the corner they wouldn't mind having one more room well you have to say it's an oasis in a built-up environment each building has nine classic apartments and two penthouses one large and one small at the top I'd like to show you all the floor plans in the trailer so we're about where the woman is right no the house is next to that the houses themselves or at least 20 meters further back to the penthouse apartments there we have a four room 123 square metre apartment with a 60 square meter roof terrace I think we need to be realistic the penthouse isn't what we need or what we can afford I take a classic four-room apartment with a balcony or shared garden I think that's what we'd be looking for that would interest us then let's take a look at a floor plan parents would practically have a separate wing here a sandpit playground and recreation area so in general the target group is young families yes typical young families give me some idea of the scale I'd be interested in a four-room apartment first floor would come at three thousand four hundred fifty euros the foreign apartment would cost four hundred and fifty thousand euros to buy the classes are a typical middle-class family they both have good jobs buying property used to be the way to start building up assets was a Matthias tarbush at the spoke we were 30 before we could even start to think about our old age and accumulating wealth to date now I'm almost 40 and we still haven't managed to put away much in terms of reserves I even come up with the minimum amount of capital so that banks will be able to give us a loan a sticking point the screens not food the other fueled 94 percent of buyers here aren't from Saxony that means this is currently a market where normal Saxons can't participate even each Michi encode the class family isn't the only one with little chance of owning their own place in all the richest 5% of Germans own half the apartments and houses every second person owns no property at all most Germans rent and are having to pay more and more for living space the purchase price of an 80 square metre apartment has soared in the last 10 years leipzig is an extreme case only 10% of the people here own real estate 60% of all new buildings and 94% of refurbished all buildings have gone to bias from out of town [Music] don't you want to get your shoes dirty mister I can feel pretty fastidious while the Klaus family hesitates others are snapping up the houses on the market did he make a killing again he did did he get another bargain we keep getting repeat offenders here they buy one house after another this is the third right it's his second his second complete one and the apartments before we went for a meal and I said it won't cost less than 4.5 and he got it for 3 well I'm crazy right today the time is ripe for us to make money here with the standard and my company urgently needs it that's not a crime no I don't think it is such a bad thing the real estate market is symptomatic it enables those on top to make more profits while others can hardly afford to live in their own city anymore behind this is the more basic question does profit for the one mean loss for the others today's typical property buyers are rich people well-off retirees yes and investors the others like Thomas Klaus and his colleagues can only look on [Music] honestly when I look at what's being built in the sluicey district I need a practical apartment to live in and I don't think they're building them to be lived in they're building them as investments and I can't join in that game none of my colleagues can't either that probably also creates housing that doesn't meet the needs of the city and most of the population scary because many people are being left behind banks digna there are many parts of life see who are nowadays you find one place with high priced apartments and another where the people who just couldn't afford to live in them anymore had to move to it's a crappy situation when you say that for whatever reason you have to get out of your apartment but you'd like to stay in your neighborhood but that's not possible [Music] in a neighborhood in the eastern part of Berlin bigger schlosser has been the scene of an escalating conflict between residents who are afraid of losing out economically and the man they accused of making the deal of his life here Gustov kkona arrives and his security guard stays close by when he's here he usually gets police protection I'm going to be disturbing your lunch break today so let me at least say good morning Korea has been the focus of an angry backlash his opponents filmed the first encounter with residents and protesters let me ask you is this a dialogue it was nice whether they were meeting me for the first time we could call it the birth of the boogeyman they got to see an entrepreneur who has arguments on his side and won't back down and it's precisely this stupid thinking that prevails in society there's always a direct connection he makes money and he's become wealthy so we must have stolen it from someone it's all about politics he's charging 12 euros a square metre nobody can afford that well we have smaller apartments 35 40 50 square meters which any nurse can afford even at 14 euros a square metre as long as it's well made has great light she'd love to live there instead of in 60 square meters over there for 8 euros a square metre Clara knows that many of his workmen or the police officers who protect him had difficulties finding affordable housing but he says his millions of square meters are not the cause of the problem but part of the solution [Music] how do you strike the right balance between rewarding achievement and letting everyone share in it what consequences does inequality have for society the real general finding is that inequality being a way of making people feel more distance from one another stretches the social fabric it phrased the social fabric it pulls us apart from one another physically experientially and psychologically there's nothing necessarily wrong with inequality of course people have an unequal endowments of intelligence and beauty and they have different parents and where I start to worry as a sociologist is when people accumulate dynastic wealth and dynastic wealth means a lot of money that gets transferred down through generations because that starts to stabilize systems of inequality across society and that constricts the opportunities available to everybody else coast of Ghana may have worked his way to the top but even for him there's still a glass ceiling you can't buy your way into the world of dynastic wealth you can only be born into it Kirsti on fly – best all-time traces his family tree back to the year 1135 he's a descendant of the fogers one of the richest families of the Middle Ages you can always use a winch to pull in the deer and you've killed a stag which normally weighs well over 100 kilos then you need mechanical help to get it into the vehicle would look a bit odd when you drive around towing a dead deer in a trailer people sometimes find that a little strange the car he's is to transport dead stags as an old Austrian military vehicle when bechtolsheim uses it in the 300 hectares of forest he owns somewhere in central Germany we're not allowed to say exactly where back was his condition for letting us film him discretion is everything why had some visits in the morning a forest is a wonderful feeling because you have the run of it so to speak Keltie I think it was the publisher of deed site countess den Hoff who once said you always have to own everything you love I can comprehend the question philosophically but if I answer according to my natural instincts I'd say yes I like owning things that I find beautiful man rush to gardenia demonize Shirin imprinted by citizens not Eagles it had the great inequality that exists room on your folks is wanted for the economy and it's unavoidable obviously if you're an entrepreneur and you have inherited something and keep it running properly you will have more than someone who's just an employee do you think that things are by and large fair in Germany yes by and large I do I don't sense any real feeling of injustice and the part of most people on the street lights Lord after stars it can be not having during the week from best Hawthorne works with a view of the main river in Frankfurt he heads what he calls the family office this exclusive establishment is essentially what used to be known as a private bank perhaps you should add that this is one of the few old Frankfurt patrician houses that survived the Second World War intact this old terrazzo floor or this handle this banister you don't often find them in Frankfort today these display cases you can see the remnants of what once made patrician dining culture so special Oscar Moffitt you have to imagine a family office as just that an office that takes care of the interests and all the financial needs of a single family or an individual that ranges from let's say five or ten million to several hundred million not even the employees know all the names of the bank's clientele the wealthy come via personal recommendations they know that from battle time will offer them something that normal savers can't get from a bank these days interest and returns on their money we've done work together to create an asset structure one for the future let's say you want to invest so and so much in real estate and with real estate you also have apartments and commercial buildings and maybe even logistics stick stocks it's maybe thirty percent you might put 10% into pensions and 10% in cash the rest is invested in other things private equity forestry and so on we help families to maintain their fortunes for generations that is what we aspire to the legend surrounding germany's post-war economic recovery sometimes and evokes the notion of a kind of monetary zero-hour when everyone supposedly had to start from scratch if you wanted to get rich you had to work your way up according to the myth what's photomask Noveck shortly before the first world war a former interior ministry official published an almanac of millionaires in buda Shanda in these books you still find numerous names that look very familiar today if you look at the lists of the wealthy you get the impression that old money plays a huge role among the big fortunes today I'm hiding guns awesome for moving our biases line the ups transition dean dean the gap between those who only have work do you and those who belong to the upper class has increased enormously if i took for clue such i think if people understood how how deeply unfair economic competition was in the modern global economy they really would be up in arms [Music] it's the end of Thomas class's shift after visiting the construction site he and his wife considered the real estate agents offer at the moment the family lives essentially from his income his wife has reduced her workers to take care of the children [Music] the children are eager to tell their father about the events of the day they visited their grandmother once the children go to bed the parents talk about buying the apartment in the middle of the city when this dish walked on join us mommy first you are all enthusiastic and a bit dazzled by the idea and the beautiful project and by the question about whom the project is aimed at well at young families like you on the one hand that's flattering but on the other hand when you then hear the price and think about it again these are dimensions where I say that a family like us are out of it we aren't expecting an inheritance or any other sources of outside money we have to earn it on a monthly basis four hundred fifty thousand euros I don't even know how many annual incomes that would be as I income in the severan so at some point you start to worry that the step downwards into the lower middle class is much closer than the step up into the upper middle class I think everyone has the same feeling I'm lucky I have a big employer I feel like I have won the jackpot in Leipzig but that doesn't mean that we can keep up with the developments in the real estate market being mauled the classes are not poor but they belong to a group that has come under pressure in recent years the middle class the people who have no fortunes but have to work for prosperity in recent months thousands have sent in comments online for this film project under the hashtag on Graceland for example they've reported their salaries an industrial clerk in the car industry 1600 euros net a social worker in a rehab clinic 1648 net a civil engineer nearly 2000 net a medical specialist work 12 years of training 2768 net a net income of 3500 euros puts a single person in Germany's top 10% of earners accumulated wealth is particularly unequal half the population has less than 17 thousand euros in reserve that would let them buy a base-model VW Golf all shoes and clothing for 1.6 children from birth to the age of 18 or just 3.3 square meters of a newly built apartment in Frankfurt the vast majority of the gains and income have gone to people at the very top of the income distribution in the top 1% of the income distribution and incomes for people in the middle class and below the middle class have essentially not increased or have even fallen at the bottom very large middle class is necessary for peaceful and democratic societies and if you now have polarization in rich countries and if you have shrinkage of the middle classes then you really have a problem or you are really moving to a new territory that is just unexplored yet in u.s.

The question can really a successful democracy exist with very polarized of citizenship with lots of people who are rich but also lots of people who are below the middle-class level the world is at a crossroads today that if it doesn't try to write a new social contract those who have been hurt the many many people who have been hurt will repel [Applause] there are a few places where all social strata come together but even where they do exist it doesn't mean that the pool the rich and the middle classes actually meet how are they doing they're playing tactically Costa Fiona has paid for a place in a luxury suite in Leipzig main soccer stadium we in the luxury area of paying for their cheaper tickets through our high contributions everyone makes their own contribution maybe that guy pays 20 years for a ticket I'm actually paying 2,000 for mine there's a certain justice there now at the family office in Frankfort the bank's own Forester has come to call I brought all the figures let's start with Finland Christian fund bechtolsheim has been using his clients money to buy up forests in Finland New Zealand and Uruguay what's benefited us you can see it here in the timber prices in Finland the development last year spruce and pine have seen a huge increase since 2016 and that works to our advantage the Sweden solution copy mm-hmm authorities German forests are just insanely expensive there are very few areas available and when an area opens up people jump on it like crazy surprises a double tripled quadrupled over the past 10 or 15 years of course this is also due to the low interest rates that we currently have people are looking for everything they can find where can you invest money where can you safely invested or invested very profitably it's an intrinsic conflict can we briefly talked about Uruguay how does the return look relative to our plans we're doing quite well Uruguay is our most conservative projects this is a new global form of capitalism financial capitalism to find out how the system works sociology stat Brooke Harrington first trained as an asset manager it's a global profession and that's why I had to go to 18 different countries you know from the Cayman Islands and the BVI all the way out to the Cook Islands in the middle of the South Pacific to the Seychelles and Mauritius to New York and London and Switzerland all over one of the things you learn in wealth management school is to regard the world as kind of a legal financial shopping mall and you go to each different state in the world the way you would go to shops in a mall picking out the laws and the conditions that are most favorable for what you want to do or what your client wants to do with a particular asset so what you have to know is a wealth manager is where's the best place to get the laws that you need to do what you want to do with the art collection or the yacht or the family business the family office is the starting point of a global investment chain the wealthy entrust from best all time with their money among other things he invests with these fund managers they send it all around the world ensuring it earns much more interest than say a normal savings account I'm glad that you're here to say it at the outset we are really satisfied with the performance you have achieved so far currently we are at nine point three percent since the beginning of the year they say the secret of their fund is automated investment they have an algorithm that scans the global economic situation and converts it into traffic light signals green means the computer buys a lot of shares and when the signal jumps to yellow will read fewer yeah the curve is flat and you can see it because the signal isn't dark green we do the market timing we are the ones who ensure that a customer can re-enter the market because we operate without emotion we have no emotions our entire set up our entire algorithm is purely quantitative normal geopolitical upheavals such as those in Syria or Ukraine none of them has such a global economic dimension that it could really knock the world economy out of sync and that's our benchmark where we would intervene in the traffic light it has to be an event that knocks the world economy off-balance and at least in history no conventional war has done that many people would now say here are six well-to-do people sitting at the table and all they're doing is trying to increase their wealth for many you are kind of an economic bloat what would you say to them frankly nothing because no one ever asks net I think it's pretty tricky in Germany everyone thinks he can join Deutsche Bank as a trainee at 18 then become an authorised signatory and then eventually a department head and then retire at the age of 65 as a class-b director with a palm tree in the office and a chair with arm rests that world is definitely over that's for sure in the context of modern investor capitalism there's been this massive shift of power from labor to investment it's called financialization dissonance cloud these are very clear elements of an artificial world for which only an abstract amount of money counts a vanished but not the quality of life locally among the peoples in the markets in society now you can get rich from being a rentier capitalist that is not from your work not from the sweat of your brow as they say but from putting your money at the right place and at the right time the right things Tomasz class has been working as an engineer for siemens for nine years he sits on the works council and could imagine staying here until he retires with or without a palm tree we have employees who have been trained here they've worked here all their lives it's like a family it's not just work it's a bit of family and a bit of life the staff and I are very attached to what we do here together during the day good mind some – just recently Siemens posted six billion euros in annual profits but then worrying rumors began circulating investors were reportedly putting pressure on the company saying this plant wasn't fit for the future actually nothing is secure even everyday life living in a rented apartment is insecure we're currently secured by a single income and that is now on very very shaky legs you suddenly realize that when you get a situation like the one we're in now students really insist [Music] a few streets away from the Siemens plant cassava corner has invited all his staff to the company Christmas party he just bought this old post office railway station his wife Anna and his youngest daughter are the first to show up then the boss arrives a lot is riding on him his employees are also worried for much the same reasons as Thomas Klaus in recent weeks the financial Press reported that investors have taken over 50% of the company's shares [Applause] before though dear friends family it's amazing to be able to stand among you you are my motivation seasoned minam will to pursue is easy where my strength yeah I think you have been convinced by a letter from the management perhaps signed by me that we are still the same family no matter who owns the shares no matter who will have a say and so forth yes we do Capital Markets yes we have to refinance ourselves yes we have to reposition ourselves I will also be doing that no matter in what post I will be available to you in the future what we have achieved so far as to be a truly great and big family have a nice evening and thank you at some point every company reaches a certain size where its banking and financing structures are no longer sufficient I have to deal with the financial institutions and all that if I have that under control then I will remain in my post but if I don't then I'll be voted out faster than you can possibly imagine [Music] it looks like the whole world is being shaken up by big money it's a game that few can play and even fewer can win but when those at the top stopped a jump ship and those below have to worry about a crash what effect does that have on a country today and in the future [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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