"Fire-sale auctions of mansions, yachts, sports cars and other trappings of wealth have become increasingly common as the rich become less rich. ... Whether unable to pay their bills or loath to appear lavish at a time of national thrift, many millionaires and billionaires are unloading their baubles. In a twist on the estate sales of deceased celebrities, "living estate sales" have become increasingly popular."
Sure, some members of the nouveau riche are being forced to cut back. But a quick drive around the south Florida communes Frank writes about, or Beverly Hills and its environs, will turn up no shortage of high-end automobiles, designer hand-bags, and other markers of conspicuous consumption. And the growing popularity of the "Real Housewives" franchise illustrates that the haute gauche lifestyle continues to have mass appeal, however lurid. But the social zeitgeist is shifting away from such craven materialism. That's a broader social liquidation whose time is long overdue.