South Florida Emerging as Financial Rival to Wall Street, Prompting Exodus of Billionaires

The Wall Street landscape in Manhattan has undergone a notable transformation over the past few decades, with the vibrancy, chaos, and self-importance of yesteryears seemingly fading away. The iconic financial district, once bustling with Gordon Gekko high-rollers, now appears less crowded and somewhat subdued. Wall Street, while still the global financial capital, is facing a potential decline in its influence, and an unexpected competitor has emerged on the horizon: South Florida.

Prominent figures in finance, such as billionaire Ken Griffin, have made headlines by relocating their operations from Wall Street to the sunny shores of Miami. Griffin, who moved Citadel’s headquarters from Chicago to Miami last year, boldly predicts that Florida could become the world’s new financial mecca. He cites Miami as representative of America’s future, praising Florida’s business-friendly environment that encourages growth.

Ken Griffin is not alone in this shift. Wall Street stalwarts like Carl Icahn and Paul Singer have also moved their financial operations to South Florida. What may seem like isolated instances are part of a growing trend, evolving from a trickle to a stampede in recent years. The exodus from New York has seen over two million more residents leaving the state than entering since 2012, coinciding with a nearly equivalent increase in Florida’s population.

Jeff Bezos, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals and founder of Amazon, recently joined the ranks of those choosing Florida over New York. Bezos, with a net worth of $150 billion, opted for Miami, contributing to the state’s economic growth.

The migration of individuals and their financial assets is reflected in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax return data. An astonishing $50 billion has flowed out of New York in 2020 and 2021, while Florida has seen a corresponding increase in net income. The allure of South Florida is so significant that locals now refer to Miami as “Wall Street South.”

Beyond the appeal of sunshine and warm weather, the key driver of Wall Street’s diminishing influence is identified as taxes and the anti-capitalist ethos prevalent in liberal New York. The city, aiming to retain financial market supremacy, imposes some of the most punitive taxes on financial capital, comparable to California. In contrast, Florida boasts zero state taxes on capital gains, dividends, and business income.

New York’s tax strategy has drawn criticism, with even former Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledging the risk of driving away the wealthy with high taxes. The progressive policies in New York, seemingly indifferent to the potential consequences, are inadvertently contributing to Wall Street’s loss and South Florida’s gain in becoming a new financial hub.

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