Are you sick and tired of those super-rich who keep saying wealth is not the key to happiness? In truth, only the rich will say health or love is more important than wealth. The poor will never say that. It’s very easy to prove this argument – tries cutting off your revenue stream (it could be quitting your job or draining your savings) and see if your spouse or partner will love you more over time (*grin*).
The superrich continue to get richer as Forbes 32nd annual ranking shows. And the trend will continue, widening the gap between the rich and poor in the process. There are now a record 2,208 billionaires in the world – up from 2,043 in 2017. Not only there’re a record number of superrich, their average wealth has also hit a new record – averaging US$4.1 billion.
The total combined net worth of the 2,208 Billionaires shot to US$9.1 trillion, up from US$7.7 trillion last year. In fact, the Top-20 billionaires have a combined net worth of a record US$1.2 trillion, up from US$968.8 billion in 2017. Even the minimum net worth to get into the Top-20 club is a record – US$39 billion instead of US$30.4 billion in 2017.
There’re 259 newcomers joining the billionaire club, while 121 people dropped out of the rankings. China has the most newcomers, with 89, followed by 45 newcomers from the U.S., 18 newcomers from India and 13 from Germany. Asia-Pacific boasts the most billionaires, with 827, followed by the United States with 585 and Europe with 559.
By country, the U.S. leads with the greatest number of billionaires, with 585, followed by China (including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) with 476, Germany with 123, India with 119 and Russia with 102. The United Kingdom has 53 billionaires, down from 54 in 2017. Hungary and even Zimbabwe join the super-rich club for the first time.
And for the first time, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is crowned as the world’s richest man with a net worth of US$112 billion – up a staggering US$39.2 billion from 2017 – the biggest one year gain ever. What this means is Mr. Bezos made more money in 1 year than the total net worth of Alibaba Jack Ma, whose fortune has grown to US$38.6 billion.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been bumped to second place with a net worth of US$90 billion. Oracle of Omaha – Warren Buffett – is the third richest man in the worth, with net worth of US$84 billion. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the fifth richest person with US$71 billion, just a spot behind Bernard Arnault & family’s US$72 billion.
Of the 2,208 billionaires, 67% or 1,490 of them are self-made. The total number of women billionaires has also increased to 256, up from 227 in 2017. A record 72 of the women billionaires are self-made, up from 56 in 2017. While the U.S. boasts the most women billionaires with 82, the richest self-made woman is Chinese Zhou Qunfei, whose Lens Technology company makes screens for smartphones.
Heck, there’re so many billionaires that California alone has 144 billionaires, more than any country besides the U.S. and China. Yet, despite flushed with all the money they could count, some of the billionaires aren’t really happy. Apparently, they’re not happy because they have so much money that they actually think – it’s unfair.
Bill Gates, who has been the richest person in the world for 18 of the past 24 years, together with wife Melinda has expressed their dissatisfaction in their latest annual letter. Melinda said – “No, it’s not fair that we have so much wealth when billions of others have so little. And it’s not fair that our wealth opens doors that are closed to most people.”
Legendary investor Warren Buffett has also addressed the problem of wealth inequality, saying – “The real problem, in my view, is this prosperity has been unbelievable for the extremely rich people. This has been a prosperity that’s been disproportionately rewarding to the people on top. The economy is doing well, but all Americans aren’t doing well.”
Buffett’s concern is definitely alarming. In 1982 (Forbes) the richest 400 Americans were worth only US$93 billion. But 35 years later in 2017, the group of 400 richest Americans have net worth of US$2.4 trillion – an increase of nearly 26 times. In other words, from 1982 to 2017, the richest 400 Americans have increased their wealth by 2,480 percent.
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