Ooops! Where Did All My Money Go?

October 11, 2008

It’s been said that the truly rich are somehow insulated from the financial troubles sweeping the globe these days.  However, that may not be the case for the Russian oligarchs.  It would appear that much of their wealth is speculative and thus easily damaged by the kind of stock market collapses we saw this past week.

Roman Abramovich, for example, is said to have lost $20 billion of his $23.5 billion fortune.  That leaves him $3.5 billion which sounds huge to you and me.  But for a man who recently agreed to pay $500 million for a house in the South of France, has a $350 million yacht on order, and shells out $120 million for two paintings, a bank balance of only $3.5 billion must cause some re-thinking of priorities.

So long as he continues to fund Chelsea football club, then all will be right in heaven.


According to this article, the middle-level rich in Russia are still out there spending like wild things.

Call it denial, call it bravado. Ignoring a drumbeat of dismal financial tidings, some Muscovites continue to blow their rubles and petrodollars with aplomb, spending with the trademark abandon that’s turned this oil and gas boomtown into a notorious hub of opulence and hedonism.  From the Ritz-Carlton hotel to the luxury boutiques of Red Square, consumers and salespeople alike last week shrugged off fears of a crisis. Tomorrow will take care of itself. As long as there’s cash in hand, Russians will go ahead and buy.   “Not every crisis will bring us down,” said Oleg Uvarin, an interior designer who charges wealthy clientele upward of $800 a square foot. “Through history, rich Russians have always lived lavishly. Russia will always be in the money” …

A 25-year-old model named Tatyana Zelenskaya stalked the shops in leggings and cashmere, blond hair swirling around her shoulders. “Of course I’m worried — my husband’s company has lost 60% of its value,” she said. In that case, doesn’t her husband, a coal executive, ask her to curb her spending? She threw back her head and roared a belly laugh toward the ceiling.  “He can’t say that to me,” she snorted. “Not to me.” She disappeared into Moschino.

Transit As Piggy Bank

October 11, 2008

How about this for a lede:

A person can achieve an average savings of $9,499 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving based on yesterday’s gas prices and the average unreserved parking rate according to the American Public Transportation Association’s “Transit Savings Report”.

Almost $10,000 a year!   There’s more:

“As Americans look for ways to tighten the family budget, public transit riders know the cheapest gallon of gasoline is the one you never have to buy,” said William W. Millar, president of APTA.  “This report reminds commuters that taking public transportation is the quickest way to save money from the high cost of commuting by auto or light truck.” The analysis also includes the cost of parking.  On average, according to the 2008 Colliers International Parking Rate Study, the national average for the monthly unreserved parking rate in a city’s downtown business district is $143.  Over the course of a year, parking costs alone can amount to an average of $1,720. In addition to the annual savings, the report calculates the monthly savings for public transit users at $792 per month based on yesterday’s gas price of $3.524 as reported by AAA.

I haven’t owned a car since 1991 and take transit most everyday.  I’m not sure we see these levels of “savings”; but even with our increased use of cabs and a monthly weekend car rental, I know we are well ahead of the car game.  Not to mention the health benefits of walking in the fresh air.

Many will disagree with me, I’m sure, but I think we are lucky of transit in Vancouver.  I travel to the Richmond suburbs every day from Commercial Drive.  A good walk, two express buses, and I’m there, rested and ready to go in about an hour.  During that hour, I can nap or read or listen to music or surf the net.  Hard to beat.