Back in the days before the great bull market began to charge in August of 1982, there was a soothsayer called Joe Granville. He was the Mad Money Jim Cramer of his day, a showman and exhibitionist whose performances included walking on water (across a swimming pool in Tucson, dressed in a tuxedo) and a piano-playing chimp. Despite that his demeanor wasn't what you would expect of a great financial brain, he attracted a large following of investors for his $250-a-year financial letter (about $615 in today's money), partly because, as People magazine explained, he had called four major stock-market turns in two years. His reputation grew to [...]
“We found that people from a lower-class background—in terms of occupation, status, education and income level—performed better in terms of emotional intelligence, the ability to read the emotions that others are feeling…. You turn to people, it’s an adaptive strategy. You develop this sort of heightened independence with other individuals as a way to deal with not having enough individual resources.” —Michael Kraus explains the findings of his recent study, which shows that rich people don't understand how you're feeling, because they don't have to. They're rich!
New York city's Wall Street barons and supermarket baronets and real estate dukes have, it actually seems, been shut down by the White House. (Except for all the ones that work in the White House.) The old-fashioned, Clintonesque Presidential check-receiving tour of Manhattan is donezo! "Speaking on the condition of anonymity to explain the hard feelings toward the president, many of his most generous donors express a more personal grievance, as well: They have been treated like pariahs. Obama has not only denied them government jobs, but thank-you letters and White House invites. He has not anointed a new first couple of fundraising." (It doesn't help that big [...]
This odd profile today in the Times of the current state of New York office-building-owning real estate royalty indicates that they are all just fine and dandy! The Rudins, the Dursts, the Roses-they have weathered the storms (now all long past, apparently?) and there's not a single bit of data in this accounting about any upcoming lease expirations or negotiations or regarding any possible dropping of rental prices per square foot. The only bit of contrast to their apparent success offered is the disaster facing solely residential developers, like Shaya Boymelgreen, in deep trouble for having jumped wholeheartedly into providing a glut of luxury condos. Somehow still, [...]
American "futurologist" Paul Saffo is getting a lot of buzz for an interview he did with Britain's Sunday Times in which he mused that the upper classes will use their vast fortunes to provide themselves with the bounties of emerging technologies. I sometimes wonder if the very rich will become a completely separate species. Imagine if the very rich can live, on average, 20 years longer than the poor. That's 20 more years of earning and saving. Think what that means about wealth and power and the advantages that you pass on to your children.
A harrowing and plausible vision of our future? Possibly. But he also suggests [...]
In the United States, the rich are often a few steps removed from the havoc they wreak on society. For instance, the trader in commodities derivatives is a step away from the commodities trader, who's a step away from the bulk buyer of actual, physical commodities, who's a step or more a way from the farmer who grows or raises the commodities. While the derivatives cowboy may take some interest in how corn is grown in America, when it comes to the realities of the field and plow, he couldn't be more ignorant. That ignorance means he can operate free from any bounds of conscience when making trades. And, at [...]
"According to a Fidelity Investments survey of more than 1,000 millionaires (households with at least $1 million in investible assets, excluding retirement accounts and real estate), 42% of respondents say they don’t feel wealthy…. Those who don’t feel wealthy were asked how much money they would need to feel wealthy. Their answer: $7.5 million."
Jeff Greene, the credit default-swapping millionaire Senate candidate for Florida whose best man was Mike Tyson and who is running on the platform that he is an "outsider," which may not be totally crazy, is today dealing with the big banner headline: "Jeff Greene's yacht holds the secrets: Sexcapades or Sabbath?" Green's talking point: "There's a million people not working in Florida. Why are we talking about the yacht all the time? I care too much about my country to spend all my time talking about a yacht and Mike Tyson." I appreciate the sentiment! Sort of. Except the sentiment is sort of "please stop talking about my [...]
I could spend 20 minutes semi-explaining why the legendary lawyer Arthur Kramer (known better to you artsy folks as brother of Larry, regarding whom, no comment at this time) engaged in complicated maneuvers near the end of his life to bundle and resell seven life insurance policies, worth $56.2 million, to investors, over which the family is now suing and being sued, but can we just go with RICH PEOPLE SURE IS CRAZY and leave it at that? (On the upside, this mess may smooth out some conflicting little bits of law in New York State! Perhaps that's Arthur Kramer's real final legacy.)
Things will be allowed to be stable again in America only when executive pay is restored to its ludicrous bubble value. Writes Felix Salmon: "People who were comfortable with seven- and eight-figure salaries a couple of years ago have a natural tendency to want to return to the status quo ante; the rest of us see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring executive pay down to the kind of levels which normal human beings can relate to. Given that the pay levels of old clearly did no good and colorably did a great deal of harm, that doesn't sound like an unreasonable request. But there aren't any mechanisms in place [...]
It's not all bad news for the battered economy of South Florida: The yacht repair industry is so hot right now that businesses need to expand to cope with demand. "It's very rare to see a megayacht with deferred maintenance," says Power Motor Yacht magazine executive editor Richard Thiel. I'll bet!
Say hello to the world's largest private yacht, the "Eclipse." Try not to think of your own bank balance when you consider that the 557-foot ship cost more than $300 million to construct. Actually, try not to think of your own bank balance when you consider how much it will cost just to maintain. Actually, best not to think of your own bank balance at all. Look! Big boat! Exciting!
Signs of the Recession:
The collapsing economy and the rise of Mexican narco-terrorism have affected all of us in one way or another, but the hardest hit? Boat people. The number of entrants in the annual Newport-to-Ensenada International Yacht Race "is down — about 270 are expected compared with nearly 400 last year — and the crowd of people who have traditionally driven to Ensenada for a weekend of partying is expected to be considerably thinner." It's tough all over!
The other night, I ate at JoJo, on 64th Street. It's a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, but one of those on the less fancy, more affordable side of his 14-restaurant empire. It's small and quiet, too, and so it was that much more noticeable when, about halfway through our meal, a man in a powder-blue fleece pullover walked into the dining room talking loudly into the earphone attachment thing of his cell-phone and—without ending his conversation—told the hostess who'd led him to his table, right next to ours, to bring him "the most expensive bottle of wine" she had. She looked embarrassed and opened the menu and showed him what [...]
In looking at the recent wild estimate that there are 667,200 "millionaires" in New York City-supposedly up nearly 20% from 2008-it's important to pull back and look at what makes someone a millionaire on paper. The number one marker in New York City of this semi-mythical, marvelous status is home ownership.
Serious business: it's the Vanity Fair Men's Best Dressed List voting time! Will it be Viscount Linley, known to you as David Albert Charles Armstrong-Jones, the 1st Viscount of Snowdon, not to be confused with craggy-hot Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon? Or Ogden Phipps II, known to you as horse-loving Ogden Mills "Dinny" Phipps? The odious Cody Franchetti? Or some other descendant of the hideous elitist blood-stained riders of the working class? We're voting Daniel Craig and also equity fund manager Ivan de la Fressange, solely because his name sounds like some fun lesbian act.
So this new study by the Empire Center for New York State Policy is totally fascinating. Their agenda is anti-tax, so their framing for the exodus of 1.5 million New York residents from 2000 to 2008 is about tax burdens. So their point is mostly that rich people are leaving and poor foreign people are coming in. In real fact, the population of New York state grew 2.7% from 2000 to 2008; Manhattan's migration zeroed out in that time period (someone's always ready to take your apartment!), although New York City overall had 1.1 million people leave. (Is this atypical? No idea!) And also notably, departures from New York [...]
Were you aware that the term "class warfare" could just as easily describe attacks directed by the rich against the poor as those made by the poor against the rich? Not if you get your news from the mainstream media, according to Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). A recent survey of major news organizations' use of the phrase shows that "it was almost 18 times more likely to describe bottom-up action-rhetoric or policy decisions perceived as benefiting the poor or lower classes-than it was to describe top-down action (90 percent vs. 5 percent of occurrences)." Let's all look surprised!
Los Angeles is down to a mere 29 billionaires, after a year in which the city's fifty wealthiest residents lost a combined $32 billion. "Activist investor" Kirk Kerkorian lost five billion alone. The only two names on the top ten list of rich people to have actually made money are Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who cashed in on his pharmaceutical company, and Ron Burkle, who I guess owns a chain of grocery stores or something.