Monday, September 29, 2008

The Envy Economy

Link of the day - 10 weird facts about sleep and sleep disorders

Robert Frank is a reporter at the Wall Street Journal who, a number of years ago, began a column on what it's like to be rich in America. This soon became a very popular and he was tasked to work on it full time. This book represents the synthesis of his experiences over the past few years.

"Richistan" is a colloquial term Frank uses to describe the booming numbers of wealthy. Starting in the late 1980s, there has been a doubling or tripling of the number of wealthy households in the US, currently at over 9 million with $1 million or more in net assets. Within this "nation within a nation" there is a class system, with the "lower class" rich (or "merely affluent") in the 1-10 million net worth range, the "middle class" rich in the 10-100 range and the "upper class" rich in the 100-1 billion range. The billionaires, estimated to be about 1000 strong in the US, are in a separate group entirely. Each of these groups have distinct spending patterns and investment goals. 90% of these new rich came from middle or lower class backgrounds and everything about them is different from the stereotypes of the "old" rich: how they made their money, how they spend it, how they give it away.

Frank's book is both easy reading and hard to put down. I listened to the audiobook version, going through the 7 hours in "no time". Although educational, this is also a very funny book. The audio greatly enhances the humor as the narrator has perfect timing and change of voice, many times I was laughing out loud, yet at the same time going "ah-ha!". A rare treat.

The Official Filthy Rich Handbook

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War


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