A quick update on avarice in America and beyond
If you had a grand fortune, what would you fear more, a home invasion or Armageddon? Today’s super rich, the London Evening Standard reports, are actually pondering that question. Luxury home builders are asking them whether they prefer simple anti-intruder “panic room” hideaways for their abodes or bunkers fortified against biological, chemical, and even nuclear attack. In London, the well-heeled seem to be leaning toward panic spaces that can keep their wealthy occupants safe until the police arrive. In New York, contractors are installing more bunkers, at a unit cost that can top $3 million. Either way, business is booming for safe room contractors. The Panic Room Company has sales up 60 percent since December alone. The wealthier people get, says company founder Paul Weldon, the “more paranoid” they become . . .
Apple CEO Tim Cook will be taking his bows next week in Silicon Valley as his tech giant unveils the latest iPhones. Cook, of course, takes more than bows for his labor. Last year he took home $74 million. The secret to his success? No one may be better at corporate tax avoidance. Apple is pioneering the practice of “synthetic cash repatriation,” accountant-speak for using corporate profits stashed in offshore tax havens to fund back-home expenditures — like stock buybacks that boost the value of executive pay packages. Why can’t lawmakers in get their act together and shut down these shenanigans? Explains Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser for Vice President Joe Biden: “Concentrated wealth is buying the policy agenda it likes.”
The last thing the proud owner of a newly delivered special-edition Bugatti wants to see? That would have to be a scratch. Bugatti’s latest special-edition motorcar, the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, carries a $3 million price-tag, and the carmaker is sparing no expense to get each of these super cars safely from Europe to buyers. One Grand Sport, Wired reports, just arrived in San Diego, totally wrapped in protective sheathing. How carefully did the good folks at Bugatti do their wrapping? They wrapped each spoke on the wheel rims individually — in cloth, just “what you would expect of a $3 million car,” says Rick Ahumada, the sales manager at the San Diego car dealership that handled the delivery.