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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why 79 Russian Billionaires Think It Doesn't Suck to Deregulate

Yuri Milner's $100 Million Mega Mansion
In Forbes recent list of global billionaires, three things really stuck out at me:  1) The founder of Louis Vuitton is now the fourth wealthiest person in the world, much of what was a result of two years of massive sales to the Asian market which helped bump up his net worth during those record years nearly $25 billion to a total of $41 billion overall 2) Bill Gates is still the second richest person in the world for two years running now with a net worth of $56 billion (although if he didn't give away $30 billion of his wealth to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he would still be number one...and Carlos Slim Selu from the drug war riddled Mexico would drop one notch from his current perch atop the list with a net worth of $74 billion), and 3) Russia now has 79 billionaires in one city alone (Moscow), which is more than any other metropolis around the world, and added 21 new ones just this past year. 

This has resulted in a total of $375 billion in net worth for the city of Moscow which is equivalent to 29% of ALL of Europe's list wealth (300 billionaires with a fortune of $1.3 trillion).  Wow, too bad I don't have any Russian friends!!

What's with all this new wealth anyways??  Are we here in the U.S. missing out on something seriously magical, while all eyes have been focused on how much we've languished in one of the worst economic downturns that our country has ever experienced in our history?  Or maybe, there are really only limited ideas for massive riches in America, outside of the all technology fortunes springing up in Silicon Valley (can you say Facebook twenty something billionaires!), whereby if you're a geeky software developer with a Bachelor's degree in computer science from Stanford or Berkeley then you just might have a chance of creating the next big Internet thing.   

What Russia has found and most specifically the city of Moscow, is that if you focus on Free Enterprise and Deregulation, then the average Joe on the street who has the right connections, can take advantage of opportunities that others in more socialist or communist nations (which they were so famously for many many years before the walls came crashing down in the late 80's) can really never do.  Due to the privatization of various industries in the 1990's in Russia, including steel mining, oil refineries and car factories, a new industry resulted after the break up of their super regulated business environment...billionaire making factories.  So it really is no surprise what has happened since then, as these ultra rich Russians started popping up all around the globe, and their new money began making its way west to the U.S. (e.g., Mikail Prokhorov who purchased the New Jersey Nets of the NBA last year for $200 million or Yuri Milner who made large investments in Facebook and Groupon and recently bought a $100 million mega mansion in Los Altos Hills in Northen California). 

Although this sounds all well and good, since we are probably the most democratic non-communist country in the world, but we have a political party here in the U.S. headed up by our current president who believes that we need more regulation, big government control and spending, and higher taxes to get this country back on track.  With what happened to the financial markets including the October crash of 2008, as a result of a suspicious lack of federal oversight of various financial instruments (e.g., derivatives), it may have been smart for some regulation afterwards.  However, due to the kneejerk reaction of many on the democratic left that's lasted until today, we've been extremely restriced by these policies.  It has also greatly hindered the opportunities that are so very open to those in countries such as Russia.

If we don't start thinking more creatively and begin to strategically explore opportunities for free enterprise, then we may not catch up to these more progressive countries.  Our job growth and deficit reduction may count on it. 

20 comments:

Russian is also one of the most corrupt countries in the world (right next to Sierra Leone)

So true, but there are lots of different corrupt countries all around the globe...well maybe not Singapore, but who wants to live there where you can't even chew gum in public!

Corrupt countries? oh, are you guys getting this info from this website?

http://www.asianoffbeat.com/default.asp?Display=844

Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone that genuinely
knows what they're talking about over the internet. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important.

More people should read this and understand this side of the story.
I was surprised you aren't more popular since you certainly have the gift.



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