How the Richest Americans Made Their Wealth

How the Richest Americans Made Their Wealth

A recent MarketWatch article by contributor Mark Hulbert argues that the wealthiest Americans are not the source of great investment tips, but rather earned their fortunes either by starting businesses or through inheritance.

Hulbert notes that over the past year, the wealthiest Americans “on balance did not do as well with their investments as the S&P 500. In fact, they didn’t even do as well as a standard 60/40 portfolio of stock and bond index funds.” Although they saw a total $240 billion increase in their wealth over the last year, in percentage terms the increase amounted to 8.1%, less than that of the broader market.

“So, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy that these richest Americans did to increase their net worth over the past year. The disconnect that commentators should be focusing on is between the U.S. economy and the stock market, rather than with the super wealthy in particular.”

Hulbert also notes that the last year’s underperformance by the wealthy isn’t a fluke:

According to Hulbert, these results would be surprising “only if you make the mistake of thinking that these richest Americans acquired their wealth on Wall Street,” adding that his analysis of the Forbes 400 lists over the years reveals that the vast majority made their fortunes “either through starting a company that eventually made it big  or through inheritance.”

He concludes, “As far as I can tell, the rich view the stock market primarily as  a vehicle for preserving the purchasing power of their already-amassed fortunes rather than  for creating those fortunes in the first place.”