Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where are Gen Y's Billionaires?

Today, Forbes magazine released its annual list of the richest 400 people in America - the much-anticipated Forbes 400 list. This list is the standard by which most extremely wealthy Americans tend to measure themselves. Granted, much of a billionaire's empire is hard to value given that wealth can be tied up in illiquid private securities or other assets, but Forbes does a pretty good job overall of estimating wealth.

Robert Frank at the Wall Street Journal points out something that should be obvious to anyone taking a good look at the list - there's a lack of young money. Indeed, the nouveau riche that was long talked about does not seem to be coming into fruition. Instead, we're seeing a continuation of old money and what Frank describes as "a hardening of the plutocracy". Yes, facebook's "Big Three" made it onto the list and the youngest member of the
Forbes 400 is 26. Ultimately, though, it's clear that Gen Y is making little headway in reaching the upper echelons of wealth in this country. As Frank concludes, there were "no new billionaires from tech, or the Green Economy, or biotechnology or any other revolutionary product or industry" in the list.

Given the fact that any millennial who becomes a part of the list would have had a drastically shorter time frame to build such a vast amount of wealth, it may be a little while before their empires register on the Forbes 400 scale.
By that time, perhaps they will constitute a new plutocracy.

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