Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has a theory about the super-rich: They just want to be loved.
"If you're really, really rich, an additional dollar, an additional hundred million dollars doesn't matter too much for you. But feeling that you are being respected -- it matters a lot," the Princeton professor and New York Times columnist, said in an interview with Reuters on Monday.
"I think what really rich people want to buy often is they want the world to praise them for their wealth, so they want economic theories that praise rich people as the salvation of the rest of us."
Krugman went on to say that the wealthy support Republican economic policies both because they want more money for themselves and they want everyone to respect them.
"It's not just that they don't want to pay higher taxes, they also want everyone to respect them," Krugman added. "President Obama has very gently hinted that maybe not everything that Wall Street does is in the interest of society, and they've gone berserk."
Krugman warned that the rich may be pushing for policies that are actually detrimental to them. Since John F. Kennedy's presidency, the U.S. economy has gained around 42 million private jobs during Democratic presidencies, compared to roughly 24 million during Republican ones, according to a Bloomberg study.
"It’s actually a pretty overwhelming thing that Wall Street does better under Democrats than it does under Republicans. Better economic management, whatever, but the historical record is pretty clear," Krugman said. "I suspect if we ever get the full Republican menu of policies, you'll have an awful lot of people in the financial industry wailing because things will go very badly for them."
Krugman said that rising income inequality has helped make the super-rich more influential in Washington.
"What now passes for orthodox policy on the right is pretty much the kind of crank economics that eccentric billionaires on the right were preaching 40 years ago," Krugman said. "So what's happened is that these kinds of crank doctrines have been mainstreamed."