Understanding the origins of wealth inequality is critical in the debate over what, if anything, to do about it. In this note, we propose a simple model which is still rich enough to reproduce observed patterns of wealth inequality. We call it the Concentrated Asset Betting (CAB) model. A key element of CAB is a phenomenon known in the gambling world as “over-betting the edge.” The model we propose is based on the observation that a high fraction of investors have experienced sub-par growth in their savings, after allowing for consumption and philanthropy, relative to the tremendous long-term growth in the public stock market. Some of the reasons put forward to explain the shortfall in investor returns include investment fees, commissions and taxes. Our model suggests there may be something even larger and more insidious at work – pervasive and systematically poor money management.
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