Posts Tagged ‘Forbes’

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Wealth inequality in the United States has reached such extreme levels it is almost impossible to put it into perspective.

But the folks at the Institute for Policy Studies (pdf) have found a novel way, by comparing the fortunes of the 400 wealthiest Americans to the meager assets of everyone else.

Forbes

Here’s what they found:

  • The three wealthiest people in the United States—Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett—now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 160 million people or 63 million households.
  • America’s top 25 billionaires—a group the size of a major league baseball team’s active roster—together hold $1 trillion in wealth. These 25 have as much wealth as 56 percent of the population, a total 178 million people or 70 million households.
  • The billionaires who make up the full Forbes 400 list now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the U.S. population, an estimated 80 million households or 204 million people—more people than the populations of Canada and Mexico combined.

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Here’s another way: the average wealth of the top 10 billionaires (from the Forbes 2017 list) is $61 billion. In 2014 (the last year for which data are available), the average wealth for the United States as a whole (the blue line in the chart above) was only $297 thousand, while the average wealth owned by the middle 40 percent (the green line) was even less, $202 thousand. As for the top 1 percent, their average wealth (the red line) was $1.15 million—clearly far more than most other Americans but not even close to the extraordinary level of wealth that has been accumulated by the tiny group at the very top.

As the authors of the report explain,

The elite ranks of our billionaire class continue to pull apart from the rest of us. We have not witnessed such extreme levels of concentrated wealth and power since the first Gilded Age a century ago. Such staggering levels of wealth inequality threaten our democracy, compound racial and class divisions, undermine social cohesion, and destabilize our economy.

The problem is, while mainstream economists look the other way, politicians in Washington continue to allow the Monopoly men to pass Go, collect their additional billions in wealth, and win the game.

 

*”Monopoly men” are not just men: there are 50 women on the 2017 Forbes 400 list, who are worth a combined $305 billion. (An additional five women who built and share fortunes with their husbands also made the list.) They include Alice Walton (with a net worth of $38.2 billion), Jacqueline Mars ($25.5 billion), Laurene Powell Jobs ($19.4 billion), Abigail Johnson ($16 billion), and Blair Parry-Okeden ($12 billion).

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2o16 will be remembered by many for the troubling signs associated with Brexit and Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential race.

But, for the world’s billionaires, it was a great year.

According to Forbes [ht: ja],

It was a record year for the richest people on earth, as the number of billionaires jumped 13% to 2,043 from 1,810 last year, the first time ever that Forbes has pinned down more than 2,000 ten-figure-fortunes. Their total net worth rose by 18% to $7.67 trillion, also a record. The change in the number of billionaires — up 233 since the 2016 list — was the biggest in the 31 years that Forbes has been tracking billionaires globally. Gainers since last year’s list outnumbered losers by more than three to one.

Yes, indeed, capitalism has been very, very good to the world’s billionaires.

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But apparently they’re worried, too—albeit for very different reasons. And with very different means at their disposal.

According to CNN [ht: db], many of the world’s billionaires are commissioning secret shelters to house their families and staff.

Gary Lynch, general manager of Texas-based Rising S Company, says 2016 sales for their custom high-end underground bunkers grew 700% compared to 2015, while overall sales have grown 300% since the November US presidential election alone.

The company’s plate steel bunkers, which are designed to last for generations, can hold a minimum of one year’s worth of food per resident and withstand earthquakes.

So, precisely because 2016 was a great year for the world’s billionaires, it looks like 2017 will be highly remunerative for companies that design and build luxurious “doomsday bunkers” to protect the billionaires from the torches and pitchforks wielded by those they’re leaving behind.

read-atlas-shrugged

Now I understand how so many of my students can, with a straight face, cite Atlas Shrugged as a source of serious economic ideas. Because major-party vice-presidential candidates (like Paul Ryan) and people who get published in major American publications (such as Forbes) do so, too.

And it’s not even a particularly serious argument, because, having started with the proposition that “all proper human interactions are win-win,” Harry Binswanger [ht: sm] then tries to convince us that it’s the “’the community’ that should give back to the wealth-creators” and to cite Any Rand’s novel in support of his case.

I expect even my students to do better than that.

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source

To the world’s billionaires, that is.*

The ranks of the world’s billionaires, as monitored and tallied by the Forbes global wealth team, have yet again reached all-time highs. The 2013 Forbes Billionaires list now boasts 1,426 names, with an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion, up from $4.6 trillion.

Carlos Slim is once again the world’s richest person, followed by Bill Gates. Amancio Ortega of Spanish retailer Zara moves up to No. 3 for the first time. He is the year’s biggest gainer, adding $19.5 billion to his fortune in one year. He moves ahead of Warren Buffett, despite the fact that the U.S. investing legend added $9.5 billion to his fortune. This is the first year since 2000 that Buffett has not been among the top 3.

*And with apologies to Chico Escuela.

Is your net worth 13 percent higher this year than in 2011?

Mine is certainly not. I doubt yours is, either. But, according to the latest information on the Forbes list of the richest 400 Americans [ht: ja], their net worth did grow by that amount—to $1.7 trillion. It’s an amount that “far outpaced that of the economy overall, helping widen the chasm between rich and poor.”

Yep, the top one percent of the top one percent are doing just fine, thank you. . .

Rich get richer—again

Posted: 24 September 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

The rich got richer again this past year, and Forbes is keeping track of their accumulating wealth.

Here’s the top 10 in the United States:

And the top 10 in the world:

Sing along: “Slim sliminy, Slim sliminy, Carlos Slim Helu! When you’re with a billionaire, you’re in glad company.”

No, Slim Helu is not a chimney sweep but he is at the top of the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, and he’s certainly in glad company. With all the other billionaires around the world.

Here are the top 10:

And what can we tell from this year’s list?

The 2011 Billionaires List breaks two records: total number of listees (1,210) and combined wealth ($4.5 trillion). 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. These four nations are home to one in four members, up from one in ten five years ago. 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 Helu, 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. . .

While nearly all emerging markets showed solid gains, wealth creation is moving at an especially breakneck speed in Asia-Pacific. The region now has a record 332 billionaires, up from 234 a year ago and 130 at the depth of the financial crisis in 2009. Sizzling stock markets are behind the surge. Three-fourths of Asia’s 105 newcomers get the bulk of their fortunes from stakes in publicly traded companies, 25 of which have been public only since the start of 2010.

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.

In other words, we know (a) that the ongoing crises of capitalism have been very good for a large number of people who have been able to capture a large portion of the world’s growing surplus, (b) that surplus is being produced in and through the successful development of capitalism across the globe, and (c) U.S. capitalism continues to grow but its relative weight in global capitalism is declining.

“Never was there a more happier crew, than them what sings Slim Slim Helu, Slim Helu!”