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Author Topic: Forbes: Ender's Wealth
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I love how detailed and thoughtful the process is! It does make me wonder about trying to write stories that take place across thousands of years - trying to maintain a sense that it's the same universe, while also maintaining a believable change in society. It makes me wonder how odd our own world looks compared to the past, and how a science fiction writer has to work to alienate audiences enough to realize the strangeness of the present.

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The author of that articles used an extremely bad starting point, trying to estimate Ender's current net worth in the future, extrapolating it back in time to the current day, then forward in time using yen as the basis for the currency with an extremely unfavorable exchange rate, further influenced by what seemed to be very bad assumptions about inflation. I was not impressed.

I proposed a much simpler way of estimating his estimated net worth: Start with $1 and figure an 8% average annual rate of return. Boom, you already have a 9 followed by 106 zeroes. Take into account that he would have been paid for his military service, his time as a colonial governor, and also showered with gifts as the savior of the species and he was likely a billionaire even before writing the Hive Queen and the Hegemon.

Beyond this, Jane could probably easily get him a far higher rate of return than 8% annually. Even then using the guy's 1/254 ration of dollars to yen, and then a factor of 23x to account for inflation, Ender's wealth would be so vast as to defy understanding, IMO.

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I think there are practical limits to what you can get through compound interest. If the wealth is so large as to defy understanding, how are you going to loan enough out to get interest payments on it?

Jane's help would certainly make a difference, but since there is only such much economic activity and valuable property to own in the future, and conversion of any non-liquid asset to liquid requires a market, and governments are going to manage money supply as a matter of course, I don't think there's much sense in assuming that Ender's personal wealth could defy understanding. (Which I take to mean several orders of magnitude larger than the estimate they came up with.)

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Yeah, Ender would definitely have a bigger rate of return thanks to Jane. It's like having the best insider information ever. But that large of an rate simply cannot be sustained over a long period of time. It would surpass the value of the entire economy in a few hundred years. I would imagine that over time, the rate would decrease to some combination of the rate of total economic growth and the inflation rate.

Also, I'm fairly sure that in the Shadow books it references the American dollar being the world currency. Wish I'd taken note of the exact reference.

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Well, it is called the "Hundred Worlds" by the time Ender needs a ship on Trondheim to take him to Lusitania. While the exact number of settled planets is unknown, one would assume that every settled planet has some method of facilitating offworld investing in that planet's enterprises.

Therefore, Jane has spread Ender's investments among the Hundred Worlds, making the reference point for Ender's potential wealth almost unfathomably large to begin with.

To put this in perspective, as of 2011, the estimated GDP of the entire Earth is 70.02 trillion USD. If there really are 100 worlds, and on average each one of them has the same relative GDP as the Earth of 3,000 years ago (which seems conservative to me), that means that, in today's dollars, the universal GDP pool would be 7 quadrillion USD.

Currently, the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, has an estimated wealth of 73 billion. If we use that as the more-or-less random upper boundary of what Ender's wealth could be relative to the entire galactic economy, that means that Ender could be worth about 7 trillion USD.

Just some back-of-the-napkin figuring there, but I think it's at least as good a starting point as the author of the article uses.

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