Forbes World's Billionaires 2011

Forbes just published their yearly billionaires list for 2011. As expected with the massive transfer of wealth from the people to the well connected and happy few, the 2011 Billionaires List breaks two records: total number of listees (1,210) and combined wealth ($4.5 trillion). The BRIC countries are the big winners, thanks to massive inflationary policies in their countries, the commodities boom propelled by all the central banks, and I would also say, thanks to corruption which is extremely high in all these countries.

A few quotes:
This horde surpasses the gross domestic product of Germany, one of only six nations to have fewer billionaires this year. BRICs led the way: Brazil, Russia, India and China produced 108 of the 214 new names. [...] Before this year only the U.S. had ever produced more than 100 billionaires. China now has 115 and Russia 101.

Atop the heap is Mexico's Carlos Slim Helú, who added $20.5 billion to his fortune, more than any other billionaire. The telecom mogul, who gets 62% of his fortune from America Movil, is now worth $74 billion and has pulled far ahead of his two closest rivals. Bill Gates, No. 2, and Warren Buffett, No. 3, both added a more modest $3 billion to their piles and are now worth $56 billion and $50 billion, respectively. Gates, who now gets 70% of his fortune from investments outside of Microsoft, has actually been investing in the Mexican stock market and has holdings in Mexican Coke bottler Femsa and Grupo Televisa.
America's wealthiest still dominate the global ranks, but the U.S. is losing its grip. One in three billionaires is an American, down from nearly one out of two a decade ago. It has 10 more than last year but 56 fewer than its 2008 peak. The U.S. is adding new billionaires at a much slower pace; just 6% of its 413 billionaires are new this year compared with 47% of China's and 30% of Russia's.

Still there are plenty of inspiring newcomers who figured out clever ways to get rich. The most obvious example is the success of Facebook [...] has spawned six billionaires. Leading the group is Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose fortune jumped 238% to $13.5 billion in the past year. Also joining him in the world ranks are his cofounders Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz, its first president Sean Parker and the Russian Internet investor Yuri Milner. Moskovitz, 26, is eight days younger than his former college roommate Zuckerberg, making him the world's youngest billionaire.

The frenzy among big investors for all things social pushed up private market values of online gaming outfit Zynga and online group-buying site Groupon, creating two more new billionaires, Mark Pincus (who taught people to farm on Facebook) and Eric Lefkofsky (who was Groupon's lead investor).

Other notable American newcomers include Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, the cofounders of Forever21, and Chris Cline, who owns 3 billion tons of coal reserves, mostly in Illinois.

Why do we spend so much time counting other people's money? Because these moguls have the power to shape our world. [...]

Where their inspiration leads, we will follow.

A note on methodology: More than 50 reporters in 13 countries worked on compiling the list this year, valuing individuals' public holdings, private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash. Net worths were locked in using stock prices and exchange rates from Feb. 14.
For more details, and the specific bios and summary of the top 10 billionaires, please follow the link to Forbes.

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