“The rich get richer” may not be an accurate adage anymore.
Economists pouring through data are saying – with increasing frequency – that the rich as a group are no longer getting richer. Over the last two years, many have become poorer, perhaps signaling the end of a 30-year period in which the super-rich became wealthier and more numerous.
In 2008, the number of Americans with a net worth of at least $30 million dropped 24% according to CapGemini and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Monthly income from stock dividends has fallen more than 20% since last summer, and the Mei Moses index, which tracks the price of art, has dropped 32% in the past six months.
An Aug. 21 New York Times article quoted Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse, saying, “Since the early ’80s, incomes have tended to get less equal. And I think we’ve entered a phase now where society will move to a more equal distribution.”
When the rich start changing their spending habits, it has widespread effects throughout society. Not only will it exacerbate budget worries for governments and charities, who rely heavily on taxes and donations from the affluent, but it also causes big trouble for a number of entities. Think exclusive country clubs and elite universities. High-end tourist destinations. Practically any luxury item. Many a private golf course or country club in the Denver area alone has advertised “drastically reduced” initiation fees, and a couple have even eliminated them outright in a desperate attempt to attract and maintain enough monthly dues-paying members to keep the club afloat.