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How Did Joseph P. Kennedy Made His Fortune – and What Can We Learn

Understanding how he rode trends for financial gain is always important for investors, and businessman alike.

By Raja Izz

Picture credit: NPR

Being educated is not the marking of a true man. Play sports, know business and politics, dress well, and know how to invest your money, this is what it takes

Joseph P. Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy Family

Something for years I have been interested in is how the patriarch of the dynastic families made their money being aristocracies, wealthy elites, or businessman. One of the most fascinating story is of tycoon Joseph P. Kennedy, father of John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

For decades, many people have been interested in the Kennedy's elegance and charisma. Today I’m here to share how the patriarch of the Kennedy clan made his fortune...

How He Did It
When we speak of Joseph P. Kennedy and how his fortune was made we have to point out the three phases of investments made throughout his life. Joe made money through a very unique periods of time such as the roaring 20′s, the great depression, and world war II. Joe responded to each of these periods and invested according to the trends of the day.

  • Stock Market Investing 1920′s

  • Bootlegging 1930′s

  • Real Estate Investing 1940′s

Joseph P. Kennedy started his business ventures after graduating from Harvard. He went on to marry the mayors daughter and even ran a bank for a short period of time . Many people believe that Joseph got started making money by bootlegging alcohol which made him rich. The truth is Joseph P. Kennedy started out making money in the stock market during the roaring 20′s. Eventually his travels lead him to stock market investing and learning how to do insider trading, along with pump and dump stock scams.

At the time it was completely legal to do this as many people didn’t know about the hazards of pump and dump stock scams. For thoughts who don’t know what a pump and dump scam is, this is where traders conspired to inflate a stock’s price, selling out just before the bubble burst. Right before the crash in 1929 Kennedy pulled all his money out of the market anticipating a crash and walked away a millionaire.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle headline on “Black Thursday,” Oct. 24, 1929, proclaims, “Wall St. In Panic As Stocks Crash.” (Image: FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Wall Street Crash of 1929, began in late October 1929 and was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States. Kennedy was one of the few individual who profited from these event.

After his stock market adventures Kennedy saw an opportunity to make money in the underworld with the mob. While it was never proven in court that Kennedy was selling booze while it was illegal in the 1930′s, many mob bosses have stated on record that Joseph was highly involved in bootlegging and that they were partners. In 1973 mob boss Frank Costello said he and Kennedy had been bootlegging partners making millions together during prohibition. Again we see the great timing of Kennedy that right after the stock boom of the 1920′s he rides the next trend of selling liquor doing prohibition increasing his wealth even larger.

After prohibition ended driving away bootleggers, Kennedy was a very wealthy man who had road 2 waves to financial success spanning 2 decades.

Chicago Merchandise Mart - The Great Depression forced Field & Company out of the wholesale market. In 1945, the building was sold to a group headed by Joseph P. Kennedy for about a third of its original cost. (Image: Chicago Architecture Center)

During World War II, the prices of homes dropped off significantly making it a great time to buy real estate. Kennedy spent millions of dollars buying up properties to add to his asset column during the hard times waiting until the war ended when soldiers would come home to start families making his real estate value skyrocket.

One of his biggest deals was him spending $12.5 million dollars to buy up Chicago Merchandise Mart, wholesale emporium that was valued at 30 million when it was originally built. Just a few years later the annual gross in rent exceeded the purchase price.

By 1957 Joseph P. Kennedy’s wealth was valued between $200 million to $400 million dollars. Adjusted for inflation Joseph P. Kennedy’s net worth would be valued today at $2.2 billion to $4.3 billion dollars. At the time Joseph P. Kennedy was one of the richest men in the United States, and even after his death his fortune lives on being given to the next generation of Kennedy’s.

Joseph P. Kennedy and sons Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. and Edward M. Kennedy stand on a staircase at the U.S. Embassy residence (Image: John F. Kennedy Library)

What Can We Learn?
Something we can take away from how Joseph P. Kennedy became wealthy was his great timing of being able to get in when the time came, and get out when it was necessary. He road 3 decades of financial trends which made him one of the richest men in the United States and turned the name Kennedy into a household name. Understanding how to ride trends for financial gain is always important for investors, and businessman alike.

No mater what the economy is like (2008 - 2021 low interest rates or 2023 "higher for longer" interest rates) there are always trends to be ridden for your own gain. Learn these trends to take advantage of so that you can become wealthy just like Joseph P. Kennedy.






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