Flash is Trash: Go Stealth in a K-shaped economy

Doom Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Youtube & Instagram as we enter the new year of 2021, I am surprised and slightly appalled that influencer marketing is still around. I see some prominent influencers showing off about being in Tulum, Seychelles, Maldives or somewhere luxurious and exotic. Or sitting in front of their Lambo or what not.

Sure, prior to March 2020, where we were in a 10 year economic upcycle this makes sense. The economy was booming and there was a popular perception that rising tide lifts all boats. Flash was in. But in the post Covid world, we are clearly in a K-shaped economy where there are some very clear winners who have assets and good jobs but most of the populace is suffering and or falling behind.

Basically, “If you’re wealthy or have high income, the recession is essentially over for you. If you are less fortunate, you are still struggling to navigate the economic carnage.”

My friend Pomp goes on and covers this point with a lot of good graphs illustrating this big divergence. Worth a read. The K-Shaped Recovery Is Now Undeniable

Add on top of the fact of the financial suffering, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Millions of people are still in lockdown, or have lost family members and friends. Travel is off limits to most of the populace.

I’m not a hater and count myself as an arch capitalist. I don’t begrudge these folks their success or even the right to show their lifestyle. I actually admire what the lifestyle they have built. But it just seems ill advised right now. If you were smart and/or lucky to pull ahead in 2020, better to keep quiet. Discretion is the better part of valor here. No one wants to see you cavorting around Bali at some luxury resort.

I have even heard of this term “Stealth Wealth.” I pulled this quote from Albert Goldson of the advisory firm Indo-Brazilian Associates:

“For the savvier elements of the upper-class, they’ve dusted off the playbook and added some more chapters specific to a global pandemic environment. For those relatively untouched financially by the market’s wild gyrations, or perhaps who have profited obscenely by it, they’ve revived the Great Recession stealth wealth tactics of unabashed shopping. Hunkered in their urban or suburban gated-communities they usually send their personal shoppers to boutiques to pick-up and bring the designer merchandise in plain bags so as not to upset their “struggling” neighbors who have gone from billionaires to merely multi-millionaires and are actively downsizing their lifestyles.

So get ready to meet the stealthy wealthy — if you can find them. — because their low profile is so deep under the radar that it’s a de facto witness protection program.”

I agree with his perspective that wealthy folks from Latin America or Asia are far ahead of the curve here and understand the risks of standing out. Think about how the Jews were targeted and attacked throughout history (they were targeted as they were wealthy money lenders and bankers, outside of the racist and religious reasons). Or in more recent times, the same thing happened to business-owning ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia & other parts of Southeast Asia.

Remember why the French Revolution or Russian Revolution happened? It happened in times of massive wealth inequality. And because the wealthy were so isolated from the real world, their acts antagonized the suffering general populace. Think Marie Antoinette’s reported infamous quote: “Let them eat cake” during a time of famine in France in 1789. We all know what happened after that. If you do not know, spoiler alert: she was executed by guillotine cheered on by an angry mob.

I don’t think (or hope) something like this will happen here in America or in most parts of the world. But why would you tempt fate. Better to keep working hard and keep a low profile. Also help your friends, family and anyone you can. Donate more to charity. Local food banks are a good choice here. We’re all interconnected here.

While I am not a fan of the inbred European nobility, I do like their concept of Noblesse Oblige: “nobility extends beyond mere entitlements and requires the person who holds such a status to fulfill social responsibilities.” Not sure they actually practiced it but it’s still a good concept nonetheless and something I wish to see more of in our world.

Remember that even if you did fall behind ie. you still have a job and are solvent, you are literally still far ahead of 97% of the world’s population. Very few people have come through unscathed in the 2020 pandemic. Think about how bad things are these days, that the $600 usd stimulus check is a lifeline for many Americans. Many of them put in dire straits due to the government enforced lockdowns. People are especially sensitive these days. Flaunting your amazing life to them seems both stupid and in poor taste. If you ARE going to do this, use your audience to do things like what MrBeast has done, with the recent launch of his MrBeast burgers. A brilliant business AND PR move which helped bring more business to local independent restaurant owners in America.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, with the vaccine coming. So it should not be like this forever. You can show off all you want when the world is back to some semblance of normality. In the meantime, better to be low profile and stop posting about how awesome your life is on Instagram, Youtube or whatever social media you are on. I write to help people avoid future problems. There is only downside to oversharing in this environment. If we have learned anything from 2020, modesty and humility takes you pretty far.

Listen to this Newsletter: https://listencat.com/the-hard-fork-by-marvin-liao-podcast/

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com

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