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MJC
09-24-2004, 10:38 AM
The Forbes billionaires list is out again.

It was a record year for billionaires. The top 400 have a trillion dollars in assets.

How many people from the bottom up, world wide, would it take to add up to a trillion dollars in assets?

Two billion? Three billion?

Poor, angry Theresa tied for the bottom at $750 million.

Meanwhile, there's always Billionaires for Bush (http://billionairesforbush.com/index.php)

Nicholas Carey
09-24-2004, 07:41 PM
This site does a good job of showing, in the United States, income (not wealth) disparity — wealth disparity is even more obscenely skewed than income.

He represents household income as a stack of $100 dollar bills. The distribution exhibits, as the statisticians might say, extreme skewness (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Skewness.html).

http://www.lcurve.org/

http://www.lcurve.org/images/LCurveFlier2003.pdf

Kev Smyth
09-24-2004, 08:02 PM
Before getting all bent out of shape about income/wealth distribution one might ask a couple of questions. For example, how many of them were at the top of the list, or even on it, 10, 20, or 30 years ago?

Another companion question would be how many of the nation's wealthiest from one, two, or three generations ago still have any significant assets or impact?

Most of the current list are new wealthy and self-made. Past studies have shown pretty conclusively that family wealth is rarely held onto for more than three generations before becoming so dissipated among heirs that it's not worth counting.

Wealth in America is for the most part a very fluid situation with the top players changing all the time. It's probably more important to keep opportunities and capital available than it is to worry about who's currently on top- because they won't be there long.

alteran
09-24-2004, 09:35 PM
Originally posted by Kev Smyth:
[QB]Another companion question would be how many of the nation's wealthiest from one, two, or three generations ago still have any significant assets or impact?

Most of the current list are new wealthy and self-made. Past studies have shown pretty conclusively that family wealth is rarely held onto for more than three generations before becoming so dissipated among heirs that it's not worth counting.

QB]An old saying in my industry is "The first generation starts the business, the second generation takes off from that good start and really makes it grow. The third generation pisses it all away."

Certainly not a universal truth but it is a very noticeable occurence in many family owned enterprises.

Kev Smyth
09-24-2004, 09:55 PM
I've been doing some reading on estate planning. The consensus is that it has been almost impossible in the past, and even less likely in the future, to keep fortunes together for more than three generations.

The growing trend is to take care of your kids and grand-kids, then give the rest away while you're alive to ensure that your interests and values are truly met.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
09-24-2004, 10:06 PM
I think that's right. The idea of "old money" is less of a right to status than it was years ago. The information age has spawned too many new names. I'm more interested in where the middle ground is, as in the average income for a family of four, and what that represents in quality of life. I'm never going be a "rich" man, but I have a very good life as far as I'm concerned.