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Robert Frank: The Wealth Index – Forecasting the Future of Affluent Spending at The American Express Publishing Luxury Summit

Robert Frank: The Wealth Index – Forecasting the Future of Affluent Spending at The American Express Publishing Luxury Summit

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Robert Frank’s work is well known in the areas of luxury spending and affluence. He wrote The Wealth Report for The Wall Street Journal for years, and then joined CNBC as its wealth editor, reporting on air and online about wealth, luxury and investing issues.

At the American Express Publishing Luxury Summit, he spent his presentation time discussing many personal insights into what is happening right now, explaining the cycles of wealth and their movement are more extreme than in prior years. The movement of wealth from China and Brazil into this country and others creates a revolving door of exceptional wealth with more discretionary income than ever. At the largest Lamborghini dealership in Miami, the store manager told Robert that he had not sold one car to English speaking people for two years. The population who buy are in the 20’s and 30’s, sometimes women, and from Brazil, and the Middle East. And it doesn’t matter to them that there is often an 18-month waiting list for a Lamborghini, either.

Michael Kovac, Getty Images, North America
Michael Kovac, Getty Images, North America
One issue that concerns Mr. Frank, though, is those with new, new money in the United States. He said these people are not from New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Due to the new energy issues in the U.S., and the very new (and highly controversial) process of fracking — the dual processes of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside, and extracting oil from sand, the new billionaires are now and will soon be from North Dakota, Montana Wyoming and Kansas, where they now spend money on tractors, vacations and home improvements. Mr. Frank wonders, then, what the definitions of luxury will be to this new class of billionaire.

Other ideas mentioned by Mr. Frank:

• Meanwhile, there are a million millionaires in China, and ¼ of luxury sales and made by the Chinese, but not in the United States.
• Economy and luxury spends are driven by the Stock Market. So if you want to know how the economy is moving, follow the Stock Market
• Sales people for high-end brands need to speak many languages, and need to make everyone feel welcome.
• Passion investing will become even more popular, as what drives a lot of money out of countries with new wealth is government restriction and regulation. The wealthy are looking for “safety deposit boxes” — places to put the money and keep it safe. Homes, condos, apartments, classic cars, fine art, wine, and jewelry – all these are assets that investors and can use, love and keep their money safe. is an award-winning 5-star luxury travel & lifestyle blog showcasing luxury cars & drives, fashion & style, gear, real estate, travel, and food & drink.
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