The Rich and the Recession

Posted By on February 27, 2009

No one feels sorry for the rich, but the rich are people too, and this financial crisis has shaken them to the core just as it has the less fortunate—all of us, really. I’m not suggesting that you pick up the violin for the top 1 percent—those who still control over 35 percent of the nation’s total wealth, albeit dwindling; I’m simply reporting that their pain is real, too. They’ve seen their stock portfolios ravaged, their real estate values decline and their companies (the source of most of their wealth) affected by this economic tsunami. So how are they reacting? As you might suspect, better than most, but their world has definitely been shaken. One member of New York’s wealthy old guard said to me yesterday, “The invitations are drying up; people aren’t entertaining as much, and they certainly aren’t spending on anything but the necessities. None of us knows how long this recession will last.” One private equity bigwig said, “I’m just laying low for now—this is a truly scary time.” Georgette Mosbacher, the flame-haired beauty, CEO of Borghese Cosmetics, and a perennial social A-lister, has just returned from sailing on investment banker Roberto deGuardiola’s boat. She says, “The rich are being more cautious, no doubt. It’s all right to have wealth, but it is not all right to show it right now.” Ever the optimist, she says, “Those who had the right values—reverence for family and friends—in the first place are doing just fine right now. Those of us who have had to work all our lives and have made our own way have seen this movie before. We’re not daunted. We will come out of this quagmire and America will be stronger.” Georgette, I’m counting on you to be right! All Americans are.

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About The Author

W. Randall Jones is the author of The Richest Man in Town. Visit the About W. Randall Jones and About The Richest Man in Town pages to learn more.