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Catering to the Elite Class - 5/10/16

Even as many Americans struggle with paychecks barely expanding at the pace of inflation, the wealthy continue to experience both chunky income and wage gains.  Many companies have come to recognize the presence of this elite class, and are creating new programs to cater to them. 

For instance, as reported in the New York Times, when top-dollar travelers switch planes in Atlanta, New York and other cities, Delta Airlines ferries them between terminals in a Porsche – what the airline terms a surprise and delight service.  Indeed, if it happened to me, I would be surprised and delighted. 

Earlier this year, Walt Disney World began offering after hours access to visitors who want to avoid crowds.  Put another way, there are people who essentially get the Magic Kingdom to themselves.  When Royal Caribbean ships call at the cruise line’s private resort in Haiti, elite guests receive their own special beach club away from their fellow travelers. 

Some may view this special treatment as distasteful, but it’s really a nod to basic economics.  Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, estimates that the top one percent of American households now controls forty two percent of the nation’s wealth, up from less than thirty percent two decades ago. 

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.