Read All About the Top 1 Percent
The super-high earners have the biggest crashes. The number of Americans making $1 million or more fell 40% between 2007 and 2009, to 236,883, while their combined incomes fell by nearly 50%—far greater than the less than 2% drop in total incomes of those making $50,000 or less, according to Internal Revenue Service figures.Instead of this monstrosity:
Of course, the trauma of giving up a Gulfstream or a yacht can't compare with the millions of Americans who have lost their only job or home. The Siegels (David and Jaqueline) will make do in their current 26,000-square-foot mansion...
Robert Frank writes...
... The Siegels show how the cycle of high-beta wealth plays out in the lives, values and economy of the rich. Before 2008, Mr. Siegel's company, Westgate, was earning hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the family. The Siegels poured $50 million into Versailles, which seemed reasonable at the time. When friends asked David why he wanted to build the largest home in America, he had a simple answer: "Because I can."Is your heart bleeding, yet? Well, it shouldn't. But what your brain should tell you is that when the wealthy take a beating, it's often the housekeepers who suffer.
"I was cocky and I didn't care what the house would cost because I couldn't spend all the money I was making," Mr. Siegel says.
When Westgate couldn't roll over its debts, he had to bail out the company with hundreds of millions of dollars of his own. He fired half of his workforce of 12,000 people and sold off assets. Mr. Siegel says that today, Westgate is "highly profitable" and demand is strong, but revenues are still half their peak levels due to lack of financing.
The Siegels took their first hard look at their own lifestyle. They fired 14 of their 15 housekeepers and lost their private chef, named "chef Jeff." They pulled their kids out of private school and put them in the local public school.
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