Saturday, March 31, 2012

On How the Rich Spend Their Money

Surprise, surprise, the rich are cheap, and aren't generally sophisticated about their investing (Barron's):

Here are some of my favorite myth-busting factoids: the vast majority of the super rich and affluent shop at Walmart (74%), Target (73%), and Home Depot (63%). That compares with Brooks Brothers (6%), Tiffany & Co. (5%), DKNY (3%), Burberry (2%), and Luis Vuitton (2%). The wealthy are also big users of coupons; 71% of the affluent use paper coupons every month, with 54% using online coupons every month. 
Conclusion: Pick your retail stocks carefully. I am hearing a lot of “common wisdom” at the moment that luxury stocks are the “safest” because the wealthy continue to buy while middle income households are tapped out. That’s partly true but the picture is much more nuanced than that. Yes, the wealthy will spend on beautiful trinkets, but, as these stats suggest, they also don’t like overpaying and are always on the lookout for bargains. 
The wealthy are not always wise investors, contrary to popular opinion. I’ve met some who are brilliantly savvy about financial markets and many others who really do not have a clue. Here’s a bit of truth-telling about the wealthy I found totally believable: only 8% of the affluent know what private equity firms do. A tentative 26% considered themselves to be “somewhat familiar” with private equity. In other words, a full 67% of the affluent are in the dark about how private equity firms make their money acquiring, buffing up, and selling companies. 
Conclusion: Stereotypes about the rich are as prevalent as stereotypes about the poor.

Both are rooted in ignorance.
Of course this shouldn't be a surprise...

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