Only Two Living Americans Are Among 30 All-Time Wealthiest

 

   Source:  screen capture of a flash animated graphic that appears in the online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.  The flash animated graphic allows you to move your cursor along the circles representing wealth, and at the top of the graphic appears the picture and a brief bio of the person who owned that amount of wealth (such as Rockefeller in the screen capture above).

 

(p. 18)  Mr. Weill’s beginnings were . . . inauspicious. A son of immigrants from Poland, raised in Brooklyn, a so-so college student, he landed on Wall Street in a low-level job in the 1950s. Harnessing entrepreneurial energy, deftness as a deal maker and an appetite for risk, with a rising stock market pulling him along, he built a financial empire that, in his view, successfully broke through the stultifying constraints that flowed from the New Deal. They were constraints not just on what business could or could not do, but on every high earner’s take-home pay.

“I once thought how lucky the Carnegies and the Rockefellers were because they made their money before there was an income tax,” Mr. Weill said, never believing in his younger days that deregulation and tax cuts, starting in the late 1970s, would bring back many of the easier conditions of the Gilded Age. “I felt that everything of any great consequence was really all made in the past,” he said. “That turned out not to be true and it is not true today.”

 

The Question of Talent

Other very wealthy men in the new Gilded Age talk of themselves as having a flair for business not unlike Derek Jeter’s “unique talent” for baseball, as Leo J. Hindery Jr. put it. “I think there are people, including myself at certain times in my career,” Mr. Hindery said, “who because of their uniqueness warrant whatever the market will bear.”

He counts himself as a talented entrepreneur, having assembled from scratch a cable television sports network, the YES Network. “Jeter makes an unbelievable amount of money,” said Mr. Hindery, who now manages a private equity fund, “but you look at him and you say, ‘Wow, I cannot find another ballplayer with that same set of skills.’ ”

. . .

 

The New Tycoons

The new Gilded Age has created only one fortune as large as those of the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and the Vanderbilts — that of Bill Gates, according to various compilations. His net worth, measured as a share of the economy’s output, ranks him fifth among the 30 all-time wealthiest American families, just ahead of Carnegie. Only one other living billionaire makes the cut: Warren E. Buffett, in 16th place.

. . .

 

“I don’t think it is unreasonable,” he said, “for the C.E.O. of a company to realize 3 to 5 percent of the wealth accumulation that shareholders realize.”

That strikes Robert C. Pozen as a reasonable standard. He made a name for himself — and a fortune — overseeing the investment department at Fidelity.

Mr. Weill makes a similar point. Escorting a visitor down his hall of tributes, he lingers at framed charts with multicolored lines tracking Citigroup’s stock price. Two of the lines compare the price in the five years of Mr. Weill’s active management with that of Mr. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway during the same period. Citigroup went up at six times the pace of Berkshire.

“I think that the results our company had, which is where the great majority of my wealth came from, justified what I got,” Mr. Weill said.

 

New Technologies

Others among the very rich argue that their wealth helps them develop new technologies that benefit society. Steve Perlman, a Silicon Valley innovator, uses his fortune from breakthrough inventions to help finance his next attempt at a new technology so far out, he says, that even venture capitalists approach with caution. He and his partners, co-founders of WebTV Networks, which developed a way to surf the Web using a television set, sold that still profitable system to Microsoft in 1997 for $503 million.

Mr. Perlman’s share went into the next venture, he says, and the next. One of his goals with his latest enterprise, a private company called Rearden L.L.C., is to develop over several years a technology that will make film animation seem like real-life movies. “There was no one who would invest,” Mr. Perlman said. So he used his own money.

 

For the full story, see: 

LOUIS UCHITELLE.  "Age of Riches; The Richest of the Rich, Proud of a New Gilded Age."  The New York Times, Section 1  (Sun., July 15, 2007):  1 & 18-19. 

(Note:  ellipses added.)

 

   Entrepreneur Leo J. Hindery, Jr.   Source of photo:  online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

 

Major Advance in Processor Chip Technology

 

   Source of graphic:  online verion of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

 

(p. B7)  A fundamental shift in chip-manufacturing technology is bearing its first fruits: a collection of Intel Corp. microprocessors that is getting impressive early reviews.

Intel’s latest chips, being formally announced today at an event in San Francisco, were built with new manufacturing materials. Intel is building key portions of transistors in the chips from a material called hafnium instead of silicon dioxide, an industry mainstay since the 1960s.

"It’s one of the biggest changes in the last 40 years," said David Perlmutter, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s mobility group.

. . .

It shrinks circuitry dimensions to 45 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, from 65 nanometers. The new materials for making transistors, meanwhile, can increase their switching speeds by more than 20% while reducing their power consumption by about 30%, Intel estimates.

 

For the full story, see:

DON CLARK.  "Intel Shifts From Silicon To Lift Chip Performance."  The Wall Street Journal  (Mon., November 12, 2007):   B7. 

(Note:  ellipsis added.)

 

Ted Kennedy Sabotages Wind Farm that Would Be Visible from His Cape Cod Estate

 

KennedyTedGreenpeaceAd.jpg   Part of a Greenpeace ad lambasting Senator Edward Kennedy’s opposition to windmills that would effect his view.  Source of image of part of ad:  online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

 

(p. W8)  Behind much of the modern environmental movement lies the "do as I say, not as I do" sensibility of an aristocracy. It’s not surprising when a bunch of enviro-aristos line up opposition to a new road or a shopping mall or some other development that offends them. But there is something delicious about such obstructionists raising environmental concerns — almost all of them bogus — to try to prevent a wind farm, one of the cleanest sources of electricity we have, from being built in sight of their summer homes.

. . .

Sen. Kennedy presented the spectacle of working hard behind the scenes to sabotage the wind farm while publicly castigating the Bush administration for its alleged failure to push environmental technology.

. . .

The real outrage here is the agonizing delay in gaining approval for Cape Wind — all too typical, alas, of how things work, or don’t, in Massachusetts. A not-in-my-backyard campaign ought to target something at least potentially unpleasant, but the "visual pollution" that so angered Mr. McCullough would be minuscule. From Sen. Kennedy’s compound five miles away, a 417-foot tower appears about as tall as the thumbnail at the end of your outstretched arm. It makes you wonder how Cape Wind’s opponents would react if a developer planned a pharmaceutical factory in, say, Hyannis — civil disobedience, perhaps? Exquisitely catered, of course.

 

For the full review, see:

GUY DARST.  "You’re Blocking My View."  The Wall Street Journal  (Fril, May 25, 2007):  W8.

(Note:  ellipses added.)

 

    Source of the book image:  http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/I/51p+cPVSstL._SS500_.jpg

 

Earmarks Often Promote Lawmakers’ Personal Fame and Fortune

 

  "A Kennedy-era tray and a Laura Bush mask at an Ohio library honoring first ladies. The library received a $130,000 earmark."  Source of caption and photo:  online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

 

(p. A23)  WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 — Buried deep in the largest domestic spending bill of the year is money for a library and museum honoring first ladies. The $130,000 was requested by the local congressman, Representative Ralph Regula, Republican of Ohio. The library was founded by his wife, Mary A. Regula. The director of the library is his daughter, Martha A. Regula.

Other “namesake projects” in the bill include the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York, named for the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; the Thad Cochran Research Center at the University of Mississippi, named for the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee; and the Thomas Daschle Center for Public Service at South Dakota State University, honoring the former Senate Democratic leader.

The bill also includes “Harkin grants” to build schools and promote healthy lifestyles in Iowa, where Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is running for re-election.

Namesake projects are not new, but the appetite for such earmarks appears to be undiminished. The items illustrate the way in which lawmakers funnel federal money to projects in their home states, despite promises to rein in the practice. House and Senate negotiators last week approved a modest reduction in pet projects for health care, education and other domestic programs. But more than 2,200 hospitals and clinics, schools and colleges, museums and social service agencies get money for specific projects, including health information technology, teacher training and the promotion of sexual abstinence. Rather than making hard choices, negotiators accepted almost all the earmarks recommended by either chamber.

Senators John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, both Republicans, cited the first ladies library as one of the more egregious. Mr. McCain said it illustrated the “many wasteful items tucked away in this bill.”

 

For the full story, see:

ROBERT PEAR. "One Lawmaker’s Waste Is Another’s Namesake." The New York Times (Tues., November 13, 2007): A23.

 

   Source of map graphic:  online version of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

 

When the Oldest Car Was New, Only the Rich Could Afford One

 

  When LaMarquise was made in 1884, only the very rich could afford to buy a car.  Source of photo:  online verison of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

 

(p. 11)  David Burgess-Wise, a writer and automotive historian who closely examined La Marquise for Automobile Quarterly in 1995, said that some older steam-powered conveyances existed, but either they were no longer running or had not been designed as automobiles — that is, as relatively compact four-wheel machines that were not trucks, intended to carry people.

When the count lured Georges Bouton and Charles-Armand Trépardoux to make automobiles in Paris in 1882, the latter were turning out miniature steam engines and mechanical toys. The partners experimented with tricycles, then turned out two four-wheelers with vertical boilers, front drive and rear steering. They looked like coffee pots on perambulator wheels.

Then, in 1884, La Marquise was constructed with a much shorter boiler of concentric rings (like Russian nesting dolls, Mr. Burgess-White noted) and two cylinders beneath the floor driving close-set rear wheels via locomotive cranks. Water was carried in a tank under the seat, and coke or coal was kept in a square bunker surrounding the boiler. Coke was withdrawn through drawers at the bottom and poured down a pipe in the center of the boiler onto the fire beneath.

. . .

The company produced sales brochures in 1886 with illustrations of a steam phaeton, dog cart, truck, carriage and 18-seat bus. By 1889 you could buy a tricycle for 2,800 francs ($540) or a quadricycle for 4,400 francs ($850). But that was a prince’s ransom at a time when a French laborer might make five francs a day. Only the very rich could buy a motorized vehicle.

As a result, only about 30 De Dion steamers were made, Mr. Burgess-Wise estimated, including 20 tricycles, 5 quadricycles and a few larger carts and carriages.

Mr. Moore said he thought there may have been only four quadricycles, two of which remain. Six tricycles are known to still exist, but none are operable.

 

For the full story, see: 

PAUL DUCHENE.  "COLLECTING; For Sale: ’84 Model. Runs Great."  The New York Times, SpotsSunday Section  (Sun., August 19, 2007):  11.

(Note:  ellipsis added.)

 

  Soon to be former owner Tim Moore (right) takes David Gooding for a characteristically steamy ride.  Source of photo:  online verison of the NYT article quoted and cited above.

 

“Global Warming Provides Opportunities”

 

(p. C3)  In the short term, global warming provides opportunities, . . . , especially in temperate zones. Warming trends have lengthened the golfing season in Antalya, Turkey, by over a month, said Ugur Budak, golf coordinator of Akkanat Holdings there.

Golfing used to begin in March. But tourists from Britain and Germany are now coming to Antalya in February.

“Winters are milder, so the effect on us for now is good,” Mr. Budak said. So far there had not been problems like water shortages that are experienced in other parts of the world, he said, “but we know we could be vulnerable in the future.” 

 

For the full story, see: 

ELISABETH ROSENTHAL.  "How Do You Ski if There Is No Snow?"  The New York Times  (Thurs., November 1, 2007):  C3.

(Note:  ellipsis added.)

 

“Adopt the Schumpeterian Ethos of Creative Destruction”

 

   Source of graphic:  online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

 

(p. R10)  High-technology industries are tough places to do business.

Competition is constant, fierce and characterized by only temporary advantage, fueled by the ease with which software makers and other high-tech companies can copy and distribute new products and services.

Instantaneous delivery through the Internet to hundreds of millions of consumers means a company with a slightly better online marketplace or search engine, for example, can quickly dominate the market, and just as easily be dethroned by a rival with a new approach.

If this brutal competitive cycle — first described as "creative destruction" by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 — makes you uncomfortable, we’ve got some bad news.

We’ve been studying competition in all U.S. industries, not just the high-tech ones, and we’ve observed a remarkable pattern: On average, the whole U.S. economy has become more "Schumpeterian" since the mid-1990s. What’s more, these changes have been greatest in the industries that buy the most software and computer hardware.

Over the past dozen years, in other words, information-technology consumption is associated with the kinds of competitive dynamics we’re accustomed to seeing in the IT-producing industries. And because every industry will become even more IT-intensive over the next decade, we expect competition to become even more Schumpeterian.

. . .

(p. R11)  For executives, the key lesson is to treat information-technology efforts as opportunities to define and deploy new ways of working, rather than just projects to install, configure or integrate systems. Our work suggests three broad areas of focus for top managers:

– First, they need to look at how the company should be doing business differently. That means deciding what new tasks should be enabled with technology, and how widely they should be deployed.

– Second, managers need to lead the deployment of new procedures to success. People don’t like changes to their jobs dictated from outside and embedded in software. Overcoming this inertia and resistance requires skillful leadership.

– Third, managers need to foster innovation by encouraging experimentation, collaboration, dialogue and all of the other activities that generate good ideas. That means building a technology infrastructure and an accompanying set of practices that reduce the cost of creating and replicating process innovations.

Managers might not want competition in their industry to become more Schumpeterian, but they don’t have a choice. Companies are using IT to increase the speed of process innovation and replication. These companies drive the competitive dynamics of their industries, rather than reacting to them, leaving their rivals with a stark choice: Adopt the Schumpeterian ethos of creative destruction, or watch from the sidelines as others increasingly gain market share and value.

 

For the full story, see: 

ANDREW MCAFEE and ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON.  "Technology; Dog Eat Dog; Be warned: Industries that buy a lot of technology are becoming as cutthroat as those that produce technology."  The Wall Street Journal  (Sat., April 28, 2007):  R10 & R11. 

(Note:  ellipsis added.)