More for Millionaires
By Al Lewis Wall Street Journal
Just what America needs: richer rich people.
Collectively, U.S. millionaires are going to go from $39 trillion to $87 trillion in wealth by 2020, according to a study the Deloitte Center for Financial Services and Oxford Economics released last week.
Not a word about what happens to hundredaires, thousandaires or even hundred-thousandaires. Perhaps they’ll keep looking for jobs, losing homes to foreclosure and filing for bankruptcy. Or maybe all those trillions will one day trickle down.
Meantime, there has got to be at least one bespectacled, brainiac problem-solver in Washington thinking, “Hmm, trillions? We only need $14 trillion to end the nation’s debt crisis. Thanks, Deloitte.”
Deloitte, however, is not pointing this out for the tax man. This is for bankers, insurance peddlers and wealth managers, so they can find the trillions and collect a fee.
For all the economic misery in the news, there remain nearly 7.8 million households in America with $1 million to $5 million in assets, 2.3 million households with $5 million to $30 million and 496,000 households with more than $30 million, according to the study.
Deloitte projects the assets of these millionaire households will more than double by 2020. Why? Simple compounding of reasonable investment gains.
“There’s a lot of accumulated wealth already,” Andrew Freeman, one of the study’s co-authors, explains. “The existing pot just carries on growing. It’s a bit like a supertanker that keeps on moving.”
The rich get richer. The income gap widens. And pretty soon there’s a totally unjust disparity between the millionaires and the billionaires.
“Being a ‘millionaire’ in the U.S. is no longer viewed as the milestone of success that it was in the past,” the study notes.
So if you’re in one of those $52,000-a-year-median-income households, you really need to get with it.
America’s definition of rich is so rich, it isn’t funny. It only took $100 million to land on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1982. Bob Hope got on it for cracking jokes. Today, you need $1 billion. And not even Jerry Seinfeld makes that cut with his paltry $800 million.
I already know two words some of you are thinking of emailing me: class envy.
Let’s be clear: I don’t hate the rich. The rich hate me. They hole themselves up in gated communities. They join exclusive clubs. They buy their own planes so they don’t have to sit next to me in coach. And they often pay a lower tax rate than me. Yet I am rooting for them.
I had feared that by 2020, most of the world’s millionaires would be in China. First goes the manufacturing, then the services, then the jobs, then the millionaires, then the nation. But not according to Deloitte.
In 2000, 55% of the wealth held by the world’s millionaires were held by U.S. millionaires. That figure dropped to 42% this year. But Deloitte sees the number rising slightly to 43% by 2020.
China, Brazil and Russia may fuel the growth of millionaire wealth, but the single largest population of millionaires stays here.
I’d much rather envy our own millionaires than some other country’s millionaires.