But what is wealth exactly? Philosophically the real wealth is to live in harmony with your own self and people you love. It is the platonic idealistic pursuit of the Idea of the Good (ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέα), which translated in politics is the aspiration of a nation for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as edited in the US Declaration of Independence of July 4th, 1776.
It’s all well and fine as a concept, which each one of us can intuitively experience more or less, but how do we get there and overcome our basic material concerns? Short of becoming a downright Buddha-like overachiever, the accumulation of valuable possessions in an environment where individual liberties are preserved (check the great work of MIT economist Daron Acemoglu on this) is most probably the surest way to get there.
So, getting richer had become the new paradigm. For nations it meant constantly increasing the GDP per capita, for individuals it meant accumulating money. Once transposed into mathematics equation, it became either maximizing GDP (the numerator) or reducing capita (the denominator). As far as the latter is concerned, Malthus and his friends had a go at it, but didn’t stick as a success in the annals of history. Increasing GDP however did. It consisted in making the most of limited resources through machinery, technology and productivity gains. Yes, we harvested our planet to that end, while letting a great divergence in individual wealth take place.
Now, the world is probably split 30-70 on whether this is still a good thing to do. We are firmly in the “30” camp who believe in climate change and the destructive power of poverty and the imperious need for “less waste, more equal distribution, fit-for-purpose consumption, and better allocation of savings”.
The future of wealth has begun. A future where individuals think twice about the consequences their consumption or personal pleasure may have on their kin. There are greenshoots of this happening, whether it is in the fight for kindness led by gay-activist-rockstar Ellen Degeneres (“When I say be kind to one another, I don’t only mean the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”), or rising-to-stardom French stand-up artist Marina Rollman’s “vegan vs carnivores” hilarious show.
The future of wealth is making sure that there is still a net benefit for humanity when you become wealthier. Life is so rich, make sure it stays this way with 9-30am.
360 Advisory – Markets