Firstly, there are many career economists who are wealthy/successful investors. hedge funds, investment management firms, private equity firms, big family offices, etc. They could have made more money if they spend more time in the act of making money, however, academic pursuits take up a major chunk of their time. Making money might not be the primary motivation for most of them, instead excelling in their academic career by pioneering new research or gaining reputation are usually the primary motivators for most of them. Hence the reason for most of them to not quit their research career.They may not be multi-billionaires, but they have made a few million to a few hundred million dollars based solely on their advisory role in certain investment firms such as
The driver to massive wealth creation for some of the career economists is usually their stake as an active advisor in a highly successful investment firm or an investment fund, which can even result in few hundred million dollars earned over their working career.
The drivers for decent wealth creation for the rest of career economists are an advisory role for a stake in an investment firm, advisory role for an annual remuneration in an investment firm, fee-based consulting role for certain entities, book publications, etc. This can result in few millions to many tens of millions of dollars earned over their working career.
Most of these wealthy economists prefer to speak about their research pursuits but do not prefer to speak about the wealth generating activities. Hence, not many people know about their personal wealth.
That said, building a business is a completely different skill set and it requires a different mindset, and just because an economist is good in investing, it does not mean that she can actually set up a business and earn a lot more wealth. This self-awareness might be another reason for an economist to stick to their research career instead of venturing into the risky path of entrepreneurship.
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