Saturday, January 2, 2016

Monaco: where the 1% gamble

Monaco is a tiny principality within a 40 minute bus ride of central Nice. There is also a train, however the bus is far more scenic (and cheaper).

Monaco is well known as a playground for the super rich - due mostly to its tax haven status and its famous casino at Monte Carlo. However it also has a small old town consisting of three narrow mediaeval streets near the palace. From here you can stroll through the gardens overlooking the harbour and the super yachts of the 1%.

View from the bus on the way to Monaco
View of a marina with super yachts
View of Monaco and the main harbour

The yachts in the harbour were true vulgar displays of super wealth. Each yacht seemed to have more extreme luxury features than the last - 5 decks, 7 decks, party decks, a helipad (meaning the owner also owned a helicopter).

From these yachts the super rich go on their shopping outings for frivolous luxury goods - such as a  $3 million watch bought by an American NFL player (according to a man I met on the harbour taxi). All with untaxed income stashed in Monaco, kept away from governments who might want to spend that tax on health or education.

Across the harbour is the world famous Monte Carlo casino - scene of Bond films and high rollers blowing millions on a single hand of cards.

Luxury cars outside the casino

Outside the casino were all manner of luxury cars: Ferraris, Rolls royces, Bentleys with the BMWs and Porsches relegated to the "cheap" parks down the side.

Tourists were fawning over the cars that they could never have while inside their owners were blowing ten times the average wage on card games (all tax free of course).

The irony is that the people inside are using their tax free wealth to influence policy makers to ensure that those outside fawning over the cars will never have a slice of the pie.

I can't say I was a big fan of Monaco.

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