Thursday, January 02, 2014


Hey, Mr. and Mrs. America, that wealth ought to be trickling down any day now, because the New York Times business section tells us today that wealthy people are feeling frisky again:
Matt Hlavin, an entrepreneur in Cleveland who owns seven businesses, mostly in manufacturing, bought three Mercedes last year: a $237,000 SLS AMG and a $165,000 S63 AMG for himself, and a $97,000 GL550 sport utility vehicle for his wife....

A legion of buyers like Mr. Hlavin, buoyed by a growing economy and a soaring stock market, are shedding whatever reluctance, or self-imposed restraint, they had during the recession by entering showrooms and leaving with trophy cars....

The sales gains at the highest end of the market are far outstripping those in the auto industry as a whole....

Maserati has led the way, with a 55 percent sales increase this year, followed by double-digit gains from Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Porsche and Bentley, according to figures from the Autodata Corporation. Many of the brands sold more cars in the first 11 months of 2013 than they did in 2007 before the recession.

Among the hungriest consumers for luxury automobiles are entrepreneurs amassing new wealth in industries like technology and energy, and executives in Fortune 500 companies whose stocks have soared along with the broader market, analysts and industry executives say....
I'm struck by the connection between healthcare spending and this newfound wealth. It isn't just that the enterprise run by Matt Hlavin, the Thogus family of companies, has a big medical and healthcare division. We also hear from this guy:
"It never would have crossed my mind to spend that kind of money on a car before," said Steve Seidman, a radiologist from West Bloomfield, Mich., who bought a Tesla Model S electric sedan in February. "I'm not really confident in the economy, but I'm comfortable in the direction it's going in."

Tesla buyers including Mr. Seidman are spending well beyond the $70,000 Model S base price by opting for a larger battery pack and options, including upgraded interior and technology packages, that can move the price to six figures.
And we read this:
Outside of Minneapolis, for example, Morrie's Luxury Auto received 16 of Maserati's Ghibli sedans two days before Christmas and had two left on Dec. 26.
Morrie's Luxury Auto, we learn from a photo caption, is located in Minnetonka, Minnesota, where the largest employer is UnitedHealthcare.

And we're told this:
A dealer near Cleveland, the Collection Auto Group, which owns 28 dealerships, including Porsche, Lotus, Maserati and Aston Martin, added Rolls-Royce last month, becoming the automaker's 35th dealership in the United States.

"Cleveland is in a renaissance," said Bernie Moreno, president of the dealership. "We call it the three Ms: medical, manufacturing and media."
"Medical" again. Yeah, yeah, I know: that Cleveland Clinic is really innovative, and was the medical facility Lou Reed chose to treat his liver cancer.

And Matt Hlavin? He isn't a bad guy, really -- hell, here he is retweeting a Van Jones article about the burdens of student loan debt.

But, um, I thought Obamacare was a ruthless destroyer of the dynamic spirit of capitalism in medicine. So why are all these medicine-affiliated folks -- buying Maseratis?


Victor said...

On the plus side, with Obamacare, the "Death Panels" haven't yet started-up!

Probably because the "Death Panels" were the result of the old health care system, where it was the health insurance companies who were the "Death Panels."

And the Conservatives will never acknowledge that the health care business is still doing fine.

Just take a look at the sales of ultra-luxury cars.

flarenut said...

Socialism! It's OK to make lots of money unless it's in a sector that federal policy favors, in which case it's not. Except for defense. And oil. And finance.