There is something morbidly ironic when one of the world’s richest men, in this case South African Johann Rupert, who has made billions (his net worth is roughly $7.5 billion) peddling Cartier jewelry and Chloe fashion as founder and chairman of luxury conglomerate Richemont, whose 20 brands also include Vacheron Constantin and Montblanc, said tension between the rich and poor is set to escalate, that the “envy, hatred and the social warfare” may crush society, and that “we are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us.”
According to Bloomberg, Rupert said that “we cannot have 0.1 percent of 0.1 percent taking all the spoils,” adding that “it’s unfair and it is not sustainable.” Being among the 0.1% of said “0.1% of 0.1%” he should know.
“How is society going to cope with structural unemployment and the envy, hatred and the social warfare?” he said. “We are destroying the middle classes at this stage and it will affect us. It’s unfair. So that’s what keeps me awake at night.”
One other person who has been quite a fan of such as “fairness doctrine”, at least as far as it does not directly affect his personal wealth, is none other than crony capitalist and railroad enthusiast #1, Obama’s personal tax advisor and the world’s third richest man: Warren Buffett, who for all his sage advice on income tax has had surprisingly little to say about taxation on financial assets/capital, esatate of carried interest tax. Or has, in any other way, provided any of his wealth for “fair” use among the destitute.
Which is why we skeptical of Rupert’s preaching and motives, especially since he himself, unlike millions of other people, actually can do something about “unfair” social inequalty if he really feels the deep urge.
Furthermore, it is now much too late to do anything about the social issues which Rupert accurately lays out as the biggest problems facing the world. There was some hope in 2008 when resetting the “unfair” system was a distinct possibility, however it was if not Rupert, than his billionaire banker peers who hijacked the system once more, transferred some $50 trillion in wealth away from the global middle class to the “0.1% of 0.1%”, and have virtually assured a revolution or war.
Which incidentally is precisely what another billionaire, Paul Tudor Jones, warned is coming. Recall from his mid-March TED talk:
“This gap between the 1 percent and the rest of America, and between the US and the rest of the world, cannot and will not persist… Historically, these kinds of gaps get closed in one of three ways: by revolution, higher taxes or wars.”
Still, we must admit we have a sweet spot for Rupert. As Bloomberg describes the university dropout whose father made a fortune setting up Rembrandt Tobacco Corp. and selling it off, has in the past made other social critiques. Nicknamed ‘Rupert the Bear’ for his pessimistic views on the economy, the 65-year-old refers to himself as a “reformed prostitute,” having spent a decade as an investment banker. He said in 2008 that the collateral damage from the financial crisis was yet to come.
“We’re in for a huge change in society,” he said Monday. “Get used to it. And be prepared.”
Yet what is surprising is that instead of laying the blame squarely where it belongs, at the feet of the Mandarins inhabiting the Marriner Eccles building, and their equally clueless central banker peers around the globe, Rupert mostly accuses technology and… robots?!
[T]ension between the rich and poor is set to escalate as robots and artificial intelligence fuel mass unemployment.
The founder and chairman of Richemont… said he expects advances in technology to lead to job losses after having read books on the subject recently. Conflicts between social classes will make selling luxury goods more tricky as the rich will want to conceal their wealth, Rupert said in a speech Monday at the Financial Times Business of Luxury Summit in Monaco.
Don’t worry Johann: by the time there is a robot for every job, the entire market will have taken itself private thanks to the unseen “cost-savings” as the companies of the S&P500 fire everyone except the executive suite. And for that is just one automaton you have to thank: whichever banker puppet is currently in charge of the Federal Reserve, the ECB, the BOJ, the PBOC or the SNB.