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In this paper, we seek to understand the intrinsic reasons for the well-known phenomenon of heavy-tailed degree in the Internet AS graph and argue that in contrast to traditional models based on preferential attachment and centralized optimization, the Pareto degree of the Internet can be explained by the evolution of wealth associated with each ISP. The proposed topology model utilizes a simple multiplicative stochastic process that determines each ISP's wealth at different points in time and several ??maintenance?? rules that keep the degree of each node proportional to its wealth. Actual link formation is determined in a decentralized fashion based on random walks, where each ISP individually decides when and how to increase its degree. Simulations show that the proposed model, which we call Wealth-based Internet Topology (WIT), produces scale-free random graphs with tunable exponent ?? and high clustering coefficients (between 0.35 and 0.5) that stay invariant as the size of the graph increases. This evolution closely mimics that of the Internet observed since 1997.