Will the Grim Taper be a body blow to the wealthy?
How will the party end?
That's the big question for the wealthy in 2014 as the market-fueled fortunes of 2013 fall under the shadow of the Grim Taper. There is little doubt that wealth creation will slow next year, along with the growth in millionaires and the feverish consumption and collecting sprees of the wealthy.
The great riches showered upon the asset-rich from central banks—and by extension stocks—may continue for the first half of the year. But by the second half, if the economy improves, the Fed could start to dial back its asset purchases and interest rates could drift higher. That would hit stocks, either with a painful correction or a slowdown. The wealthy, who hold most of the stocks, would bear the brunt of the hit.
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Will it be a body blow or just the pause that refreshes?
Either way, the money and mood of the wealthy will probably be more subdued next year.
"Most of the new wealth next year will be created in tech and energy, with rising share prices for tech and continued growth in oil and gas."
Here are my predictions:
Investors will be in for a wild ride.
The downside of "high-beta wealth" will once again become apparent as the wealthy take a hit on their portfolios in the first half of the year. Whether they end next year with gains or losses, volatility will be the theme of the year, with wild-gyration sin markets.
Unlike 2009, when the wealthy lost an average of 20 percent of more of their wealth, the market quakes of 2014 will shave only 5 percent or so from the assets of the wealthy at any one time. The wealthy are much better prepared this time around, with piles of cash and more thoughtful exposures to risk.
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There'll be a few more millionaires.
The millionaire population in the U.S. will still grow in 2014, but not by much. The millionaire population will likely top 9 million in 2013 and between 9 million and 9.2 million in 2014.
Collectibles will become the new stocks.
As volatility returns to stocks, the wealthy will seek refuge in art, vintage cars, diamonds and other collectibles. Collectibles have been on a tear for more than three years. But next year will see new records for auctioned art (currently $142 million for a work at auction), cars (currently $30 million) and perhaps wine (currently $39,700 a bottle).
We will likely see a $50 million car and a $200 million work of art. If markets really tank, however, all bets are off and the famously illiquid collectibles market could take a big fall.
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High-ticket U.S. real estate will stay hot.
As the U.S. becomes a relative bargain compared to white-hot luxury markets like London and Hong Kong, the global rich will continue to pour money into U.S. penthouses and mansions. Expect at least two sales for more than $100 million, either in New York City or the Bay Area. The Chinese will become the new Russians when it comes to the deepest pockets and the biggest trophy properties.
It'll be all quiet on the tax front.
For the first time in years,the tax regime for the wealthy is not likely to change. Despite talk in Washington of a grand bargain—which could include tweaking deductions—that's not likely. A more stable tax climate means the wealthy could boost their charitable giving in 2014, up between 5 percent and 7 percent from 2013. That all depends, of course, on whether their overall stock wealth also grows.
Tech and energy will spur wealth.
Most of the new wealth next year will be created in tech and energy, with rising share prices for tech and continued growth in oil and gas. Mark Zuckerberg will end next year worth more than $25 billion, while Evan Williams's stake in Twitter will be worth more than $3 billion.
—By CNBC's Robert Frank. Follow him on Twitter @RobtFrank.