A quick update on avarice in America and beyond
America’s fasting-growing income gap? That may well sit at America’s economic summit. Retail analysts spent last week bemoaning how Americans making just over $250,000 are now “thinking twice” before splurging. These affluents, complains luxury marketer Pam Danzinger, “have lost their exuberance.” Even worse, they’re behaving no better than Henrys — or “High Earner Not Rich Yet,” the marketing label for households in the $100,000-$250,000 annual income range — and buying Coach over Prada. But households worth over $5 million, luxury gurus say, aren’t slowing down at all. “Ultra-luxury” goods are actually booming. One sign of the times: a fierce demand for high-end hotel rooms. Paris alone now has four hotels where suites go for over $25,000 a night . . .
The newly elected Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, last week delivered what the Vatican called his “first forceful speech on the economic and financial crisis.” His target: those ideologies that “uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation” at the expense of the “common good.” This ideological mindset, the Pope told an assembly of diplomats, has led to corruption and tax evasion that have left the incomes of a minority “increasing exponentially” while incomes of the majority “are crumbling.” The resulting inequality, the Pope added, is extinguishing the “joy of life.” The “golden calf of old,” he continued, has found a new “heartless image in the cult of money” and an economy “lacking any truly human goal.”
Some of us think June and see weddings. Deep-pockets, suggests a new Spectrem Group survey of wealthy Americans, think June and sign “pre-nups,” the legal papers that determine who gets what assets when a married twosome drifts apart and calls it quits. Over two-thirds of Americans worth over $5 million, Spectrem found, advise friends and family about to tie the knot to sign a pre-nup first. But many of these wealthy do that advising with some misgivings. Over half the affluents studied, 54 percent, feel that pre-nups “introduce a negative feeling toward marriage,” and nearly a third believe pre-nups “wrongly place an emphasis on money.” On the other hand, 34 percent see “no disadvantages” to pre-nups whatsoever, and 72 percent feel pre-nups definitely do “protect assets.”