The High-Beta Rich: Why the Manic Wealthy Will Lead Us to the Next Boom, Bubble, and Bust

Robert Frank. Crown, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-307-58989-7
Just like Toto tugging at the curtain to reveal the wizard of Oz, Frank (Richistan) lifts the veil shrouding the nouveau (and extremely) riche to expose the sources of their new fortunes and the extent of their excesses. Some of his findings are certainly not groundbreaking—“The wealthy, who were once America’s most savvy savers, are now the nation’s biggest spendthrifts”—but it’s the scale that astounds. Frank’s book is a Baedeker to a Shangri-la of Versailles-size mansions and estates, rampant consumption, private jets, yachts, and extensive household staff. While the recession continues to wreak havoc in the economic lives of the nation’s middle- and low-income population, Frank provides a cogent explanation of how megabillionaires have contributed to today’s economic conditions and heightened economic inequities. Furthermore, he shows that few are genuinely interested in job creation or the long-term prosperity of others. Frank’s readers are left with a depressing sense of an economic order where the average American family will continue to see a decline in its standard of living with few solutions in sight. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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