Forbes: Billionaires are 4,200% richer today

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by BLOOMBERG

THERE are 19 times as many billionaires in the world as there were in 1987 and they’re 4,200% richer today, in nominal dollars, or 1,600% after adjusting for inflation.

Forbes’ 36th annual World’s Billionaires list revealed that in the past 12 months, the number of billionaires dropped to 2,688, down from 2,755 in the previous year. A total of 329 people fell off the list, the most in a single year since the 2009 financial crisis.

The list is compiled by the editors of Forbes magazine, who used stock prices and currency exchange rates from March 11, 2022.

Kerry A Dolan, assistant managing editor of Wealth at Forbes, said the tumultuous stock market contributed to sharp declines in the fortunes of many of the world’s richest people.

“Still, more than 1,000 billionaires have gotten wealthier over the past year. The top 20 richest alone are worth a combined US$2 trillion (RM8.42 trillion), up from US$1.8 trillion in 2021.”

Ranging in age from 27 to 89, the 2,668 people on the list are worth a total of US$12.7 trillion, down from US$13.1 trillion in the previous year.

This year saw Elon Musk (picture), the founder of Tesla, surpass Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, to become the wealthiest person in the world after spending the past four years as the richest person in the world.

Bernard Arnault of LVMH remains at No 3, followed by Bill Gates at No 4. Rounding out the top five is Warren Buffett, who rejoins the top five after falling to No 6 last year.

Newcomers include Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson (No 1,929); OpenSea founders Devin Finzer and Alex Atallah (Nos 1,397); social media and e-commerce tycoon Miranda Qu (No 1,645) and pop star and cosmetics mogul Rihanna (No 1,729).

In regards to self-made billionaires, of the total 2,668 people in the 2022 ranking, 1,891 are self-made, meaning they founded or cofounded a company or established their own fortune instead of inheriting it.

As for women, there are 327 female billionaires, including 16 who share a fortune with a spouse, child or sibling, down from 328 in the previous year.

Asia Pacific boasts the most billionaires, with 1,088, followed by the US, with 735, and Europe, with 592.

With the conflict in Ukraine, a Chinese tech crackdown, and slipping stock prices, 331 people are off the World’s Billionaires list this year, including 169 one-hit wonders who were part of last year’s record of 493 newcomers.

For example, Igor Bukhman, the Russian-born billionaire founder of gaming company Playrix, found himself with thousands of employees divided by the frontlines.

Another newcomer, Tope Awotona, who built Calendly out of frustration, has now made it worth US$3 billion and is the subject of a heated Twitter spat among the Silicon Valley elite.

Bolt, the fintech unicorn founded by Ryan Breslow, has boosted the value of its platform to the moon by promising an Amazon-style checkout to millions of online retailers.

Meanwhile, Falguni Nayar is now India’s richest self-made woman, having built Nykaa, the country’s leading beauty and fashion retailer, into the largest in the world. Nykaa, which means “one in the spotlight”, currently sells more than 4,000 brands online and in its 102 stores.