I’m not sure what to make of Andrew Samwick’s defense
of Kenneth Griffin, against the deprecations
of Paul Krugman. Krugman’s point is that Griffin makes more,
as a multiple of average earnings, than even John D Rockefeller
made in 1894. Samwick’s defense is that Griffin is not a monopolist, and is
"confident, contrarian, and accurate". He concludes:
I spend a lot of time around college students. I spend a lot of my energy
trying to get them to display those three characteristics. Krugman seems to
think that one "Kenneth Griffin" is overvalued at 4.5 "John
D. Rockefellers." On the contrary, I think it’s a buy.
I’m not sure that Krugman considers Griffin overvalued, per se. It’s just that
if you’re making over a billion dollars a year, you can certainly afford to
pay more in the way of taxes than someone scraping by on a few hundred thousand.
In reality, however, Griffin pays less in taxes than the upper-middle
classes, not more. In other words, the question isn’t how smart or valuable
Griffin is – it’s whether society has any interest in him keeping more
of his income than people much poorer than himself.
I’d also like to point out that if you compare the net worth of Griffin
and Rockefeller, I daresay that Rockefeller would still come out comfortably
on top. Income is a lot, but it isn’t everything.