In the mid-1990s, when I was a columnist and part-time investigative reporter for Forbes magazine, I interviewed David Rockefeller in his famed office, Room 5600, at the NBC Studios building in Rockefeller Center. (See photo below.)
This past June, David Rockefeller, the only surviving grandchild of John D. Rockefeller, turned 100 years old. He is a true survivor. Not only is he still on the Forbes 400 Richest List (#211, worth $3 billion), but he has managed to stay on the list since its inception in 1982. Only a handful of billionaires have accomplished this feat. Donald Trump is another one. He made the cover but I think they should have put David Rockefeller on the cover for becoming a centenarian and staying on the list.
It’s not easy to stay wealthy. In his bestseller, “Capital in the 21st Century,” French economist Thomas Piketty contended, “Once a fortune is established, the capital grows according to a dynamic of its own, and it can continue to grow at a rapid pace for decades simply because of its size.” Really? To prove his point, he selects members of the Forbes billionaires list to show that wealth always grows faster than the money of an average income earner. He repeatedly refers to the growing fortunes of Bill Gates in the United States and Liliane Bettencourt, heiress of L’Oreal, the cosmetics firm.
I guess he hasn’t heard of the dozens of wealthy people who lost their fortunes, like the Vanderbilts, or to use a recent example, Eike Batista, the Brazilian businessman who just two years ago was the seventh-wealthiest man in the world, worth $30 billion. Now, Batista is almost bankrupt. Hundreds of wealthy Americans have been dropped from the Forbes 400 Richest list.
John D. Rockefeller used to be the wealthiest man in the world. But 100 years later, only his grandson, David Rockeller, makes the list. The rest of the Rockefellers, while wealthy, are struggling to stay wealthy, due to taxation, substandard investments, and an increasing number of heirs.
If David Rockefeller had simply invested his wealth in a stock index fund, he would have been worth billions more than he is today.
You Blew It! Obesity Problem Spreads Globally
I wrote about the growing problem of obesity in America in December 2013 but the sad reality is that people in many other countries around the world are packing on the pounds, too.
More than 1.9 billion adults are overweight, according to the World Health Organization’s 2014 Global Status Report. Unfortunately, worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980, with more than 600 million adults officially considered obese while nearly two billion people are overweight, the report found.
The number of obese adults in the United States totals 78.9 million Americans and accounts for 34.9 percent of people age 18 and above, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The World Health Organization defines obesity as a Body Mass Index measurement greater than or equal to 30, whereas an overweight person has a BMI greater than or equal to 25. The latter category in 2014 included 39 percent of the world’s adults aged 18 years and above.
To combat obesity, the WHO advises people to:
- limit energy intake from total fats and sugars;
- increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts;
- engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes per week for adults).
I sometimes wonder if people who are extremely overweight feel embarrassed to go out in public, especially if their excess weight makes them think of themselves as grotesque. If so, I recommend taking positive steps toward a healthy lifestyle.
With Americans ranking among the most overweight people in the world, improvement is needed to avoid incurring massive healthcare costs due to such overindulgence. Maybe ObamaCare will scare people into losing weight to avoid using the medical system in America.
I could probably lose 10 pounds myself — which is what I wrote back in 2013. I plan to keep trying to live more healthfully and it would be great if all of us attempted to do so, too.
Special Announcement: Subscribers to Skousen CAFE will be happy to know that for the first time in two years, I am hosting the Global Financial Summit, a special private investment seminar, in the Bahamas. The focus will be on “High Income & Fast Money Investing” — combining my two most successful trading services!
My “All Star High Income & Fast Money” experts for this exclusive private meeting will include Alex Green, investment director of the Oxford Club and editor of three trading services (Momentum Alert, Insider Trader and True Value Alert). Alex is rated the #5 best investor according to Hulbert Financial Digest. I’ve also confirmed Martin Truax, vice president at Raymond James, whose “income & growth” portfolio has more than tripled over the past 10 years. He and his partner Ron Miller have also developed a highly successful trading system using “red” and “green” signals to determine when to get in and out of markets (they flashed “sell” in May and now are flashing “buy” — good calls!).
Our keynote speaker will be Steve Moore, the chief economist for the Heritage Foundation and the #1 columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who will speak on “Money & Politics 2016: The Inside Story for Private Investors.”
The dates are March 16-19, 2016, at the five-star Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, Nassau, the Bahamas. This is during high “Spring Break” season, so I urge you to make your flight reservations now.
I soon will be announcing more top experts in portfolio management, tax and estate planning and foreign investing. But I want to encourage you to sign up now and take advantage of our special “early bird” discount — $200 off the retail price for Private Equity Trader subscribers if you register by Dec. 31. The price is only $495 per person/$795 per couple with the discount. And hotel rates at the five-star Atlantis Resort are only $209 per night. We are limiting this private meeting to 200 attendees only. For more information, go to http://freedomfest.com/blog/2015/02/16/global-financial-summit-2016/, and to sign up, call Valerie at 1-855-850-3733.
New Orleans Investment Conference, Oct. 28-31, New Orleans Hilton Hotel
Join me for the “granddaddy of all investment conferences.” Other speakers include Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, Jim Rickards, Marc Faber, Dennis Gartman and Robert Prechter, among many others. Register now to save. Call toll-free 1-800-648-8411, or go to www.neworleansconference.com. Be sure to mention you are my subscriber.
In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about my meeting with Joel Osteen and his message for investors. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below.