The Billionaire Shuffle

When you have to settle for a “single” at Wendy’s because the “double” will put you over your weekly meal allowance, it’s nice to discover that our national financial crisis is reigning despair on billionaires as well.

According to Forbes Magazine, last year the world had 1,125 billionaires. Today, there are 793. Somehow $1.4 trillion vanished.

The richest people in the world have gotten poorer, just like the rest of us. This year the world’s billionaires have an average net worth of $3 billion, down 23% in 12 months.

The world’s top three richest men have been playing musical chairs the past decade. They’ve been politely allowing the other two to enjoy the notoriety provided by that #1 position atop the list of the world’s richest. They seem to patiently wait their turn to return to that coveted position of #1.

This year Bill Gates III lost $18 billion but regained his title as the world’s richest man. Warren Buffett, last year’s #1, saw his fortune decline $25 billion as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell nearly 50% in 12 months. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helú maintains his spot in the top three but lost $25 billion.

If you’d like a greater, in-depth glance at Bill Gates III and Warren Buffet, click on their names for our blog bios. Both have been featured in our series “Little-known Facts about Well-known Leaders.”

Below you’ll find a quick overview of the top three richest men and what’s happened to them over the past year.

#1: William Gates III

  • Net Worth: $40 billion
    (Down from $58 billion last year; was #3.)
  • Source: Microsoft/U.S.
  • Age 53. Married, three children.
  • Software visionary regains title as the world’s richest man despite losing $18 billion in the past 12 months. Now devoting his talents and riches to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

#2: Warren Buffett

  • Net Worth: $37 billion
    (Was #1 last year, lost $25 billion over the past year.)
  • Source: Investments/U.S.
  • Age 78. Widowed, remarried; three children.
  • Last year America’s most beloved investor was the world’s richest man. This year he has to settle for second place after losing $25 billion in 12 months. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway are down 45% since last March.

#3: Carlos Slim Helú

  • Net Worth: $35 billion
    (Was #2 last year, lost $25 billion over the past year.)
  • Source: Telecom/Mexico
  • Age 69. Widowed, six children.
  • Economic downturn and plunging peso shaved $25 billion from the fortune of Latin America’s richest man.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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