Sunday, September 25, 2005

NY echo chamber

Today in the NY Times, Nina Munk writes about the Forbes 400 ("Don't Blink. You'll Miss the 258th-Richest American."):

"Right from the start, the Forbes 400 reflected an American ideal: we were a nation of smart hard-working, resourceful, determined, innovative, daring self-starters. Above all, the Forbes 400 suggested mobility and unlimited oportunity. Every year, more of the old names fell off the list, only to be replaced by names you'd never hear of -- names of people who had been inspired to build something from nothing. Inherited welath, which once dominated the Forbes 400, has over the years come to account for less than 40% of the list. The number of Ivy League graduates has dropped, too. And New York City is no longer the epicenter of American wealth. ...

"A few days ago, I read through the newest Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America, hoping to find many names I'd never heard of. They're not there. ... It's hard to say when the Forbes 400 list started to stagnate, but 1999 may have been a turning point ...."

Actually, the accompanying chart shows that "Number with self-made fortunes" was 165 (of 400) in 1985 but 255 (of 400) in 2005.

Stagnation? Maybe not. Perhaps yet another episode of echo-chamber blinders.