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Joy Ride: One Man's Recession-Era Spending Spree

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Faced with the near-loss of his life savings, one New Yorker decided to use it or lose it.

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Ben Goldstein (not his real name) is a 30-year-old corporate attorney and executive at an outsourcing firm in Manhattan. He earns a 6-figure salary and manages his own 7-figure investment portfolio. Though he's rich, he's always lived sensibly -- until now.

These last few months, as others in the city have retrenched, and many on Wall Street and elsewhere have lost their jobs, Goldstein has finally cut loose. He moved from his studio apartment to one with 2 bedrooms, invested in a new restaurant chain, dined at fancy restaurants, and bought a new Maserati, one of the most expensive cars in the world.

It's been a wild ride, something that shocked his friends and surprised even him. Goldstein's been gobbling up those big-ticket items left behind by hedge-fund managers, investment bankers, and others in New York whose fortunes have suddenly collapsed.

Goldstein remembers the boom years this way: "You yourself are rich, and you're looking at them, and you're saying, I don't know how you're accomplishing that, I'm fucking rich, and I can't afford to spend that much."

He takes a good deal of satisfaction in being able to spend freely now. "To see it all come tumbling down on them, and to scoop up and harvest the things [my colleagues] have to give up… is something I feel proud of and enjoy the revenge of."

Goldstein's story may not be unique, but it runs counter to the perceived wisdom that this is a time for saving -- not for spending. Goldstein's experience offers a vantage on the differences, in both wealth and prudence, between 2 classes of the Manhattan wealthy in the latter part of the decade: the super-rich and the not-quite-rich-enough.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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