March 11th, 2009
06:26 PM ET

The world's billionaires

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/01/22/gates.foundation.polio/art.gates.jpg]

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 has 793, down from 1,125 a year ago.

After slipping in recent years, the U.S. is regaining its dominance as a repository of wealth. Americans account for 44% of the money and 45% of the list's slots, up seven and three percentage points from last year, respectively. Bill Gates lost $18 billion but regained his title as the world's richest man. Warren Buffett, last year's No. 1, saw his fortune decline $25 billion as shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell nearly 50% in 12 months. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim Helu maintains his spot in the top three but lost $25 billion.

Yahoo! BuzzWhile 656 moguls lost money in the past year, 44 added to their fortunes. Those who made money did so by catering to budget-conscious consumers (discount retailer Uniqlo's Tadashi Yanai), predicting the crash (investor John Paulson) or cashing out in the nick of time (Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte). Another 38 joined our rankings for the first time, and three former billionaires returned to the list.


Filed under: Economy • The Buzz
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Jay

    well, it's a natural phenomenon, what goes up must come down.
    They were good businessman I'm sure they' ll get what they've lost. It' like a cyle. Congratulation to Bill Gates for the highest ranking billionaire again.Thanks for sharing.

    March 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  2. jen

    Kevin Byrd: I don't think that the money just evaporated. I think the loss is how the value has dropped. So no one would have gotten rich over it, if my perception is right.

    March 12, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  3. Isabel, Brazil

    The world's richest are the poorest. It is curious we talk about billionaires, with purchasing power so different, the most of the deadly.

    It has also been a difficult year for the richest people in the world ... lol...

    It was difficult to avoid the carnage, in the shareholder market, in the raw materials, in the real estate, in the technology or in the telecommunications.
    Even the people ahead of business profit were adversely affected by the freezing of credit markets, the reduction in spending by consumers or the devaluation of currencies.

    March 12, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  4. FJohnson

    To the poor Canadian Mom. I left Canada 22 years ago and still hear from my friends who have to wait months just to see a specialist when they have a serious medical condition. Socialized medicine for 30 million people is a disaster and it would be worse for 300 million.

    March 12, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  5. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    It all proves that "one can never be too rich."

    March 12, 2009 at 8:46 am |
  6. Gail Ellisn Duncan

    Parts of me is not buying into this hype. It really is getting to the point that we should look into outside sources for our information such as independent documentaries and such. Something is not being said/exposed about this entire money crisis and I can not put my finger on it but I am doing more research outside the mainstream. We all should. Until the truth and nothing but the truth is told, I hope the tax write off rich folks use is only to help the poor, health care system.....and not just for their neighborhood swimming pools, football fields and owning teams.........rich helping the rich. Furthermore, now that we are feeling the crunch, just maybe we all will have more universal humanity towards Africa, parts of India and all the people who have been suffering due to creed and materialism.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  7. Maria Concha

    Now we are in real trouble. When those that can actually buy and create jobs are not buying or creating jobs the World is in trouble.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  8. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Well well well ... It's seems that what trickles down apparently trickles up as well. Seems like the Republican's efforts to make the wealthy even wealthier at the expense of the American Middle Class back fired just a bit.

    March 12, 2009 at 7:01 am |
  9. Amos Ochieng, Kenya

    Why are we concerned about these rich men? They dont even know what it means to be poor. Lets talk of how they can contribute to help the poor. People are dying!
    Those are not loses they are just mere challanges(to them)

    March 12, 2009 at 5:51 am |
  10. Don, WA

    When I was a kid helping my dad on a commercial salmon boat one day on the docks, an old man, who skippered "The Cricket" back in the day, was asked by another fisherman – "How much money they make up there in alaska", when the old man had told him he'd just returned from alaska. (The old man's salmon boat looked immaculate and he had lost his wife the year before. And the day before had helped me bait a hook for flounder fishing off the docks (back when there were flounders swimming along the bottom of the waters below the docks of that bay.)) The old man answered the other fisherman – "money...money...money." And walked off back to his boat to make supper – fried flounder.

    March 12, 2009 at 4:41 am |
  11. Justin Adams

    I'm assuming your not including all the money they have hidden in the Swiss accounts, correct???

    March 12, 2009 at 12:15 am |
  12. Neo

    I think the article addresses who made money this year. So that's where it went. Seems to have gone overseas. I have said this here before but like someone already said, there is no money circulating in America. The greedy rich people are sometimes ignorant to the bigger picture. How do you get money back here, keep businesses here. Didn't Michael Moore do a documentary on this or something? It's not hard, it just requires businesses to admit they made a mistake and move on.

    March 12, 2009 at 12:00 am |
  13. Robert - Jakarta

    But on the plus side, child labor and gun sales are way up.

    March 11, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  14. Robert - Jakarta

    Oh, my. Would someone please cut these poor babies a stimulus check?

    March 11, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  15. Franky

    Ohh yeah, we are rich again!!

    March 11, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  16. linda parks

    and how much did he donate?

    March 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  17. Annie Kate

    I don't feel very sorry for these people and their loss of riches. They still have much more than most of us can ever dream of having. In fact, their losses are more than most of us can ever dream of having.....

    March 11, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  18. Isabel, Brazil

    In 62th place is the entrepreneur Eike Batista (Brazil).
    His name reminded me that the end of last year that Brazil's Federal Police was investigating reports of irregularities in a bidding involving their companies, and tax evasion and illegal extraction of gold.

    He denied any irregularities, but in any way worth the detach!

    March 11, 2009 at 7:54 pm |
  19. Jeff LeRoy Davis

    There is still plenty of Billionaires in Jackson Hole, Wyoming- more than most places I suspect. I live in Kelly,Wy (pop 242) in Grand Teton Nat'l Park, and even we have a couple.

    March 11, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  20. Isabel, Brazil

    Even for the rich is reaching the crisis!

    In relation to Carlos Slim, I am not surprised their placement. I worked in one of his companies and he has the power of the touch of Midas, where he is, there is success. He is very compentente!

    March 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  21. Canadian mom

    I'm sure they'll get it back when things turn around.

    They will also have the satisfaction of knowing America will have a far lower drop out rate, will produce better educated employees and be globally competitive, that universal health care will have saved America from having the second worst infant mortality rate (closer to that of a third world country despite having the most doctors), and all that clean energy to be happy happy about.

    (Recent studies show the oceans to be 30 percent more acidic since the industrial revolution.. and one more reason for going green.)

    Obama gets an A from me! (-:

    Now if he could only do something about the guns being smuggled into Mexico/Canada from the US and arming the drug wars...

    March 11, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  22. Kevin Byrd

    Has anyone noticed that foriegn born citizens own most of our hotels and convience stores? I rarely see them shopping in stores or out to eat anywhere, but every month or so they go back to their birth country. Between West Indians and Mexicans I believe alot of our currency is no longer in circulation in the U.S.. Please do not think this is racist, it is only an observation.

    March 11, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  23. Kevin Byrd

    I understand that the rich have lost money as well as the poor. My question is Where is the money?. Did it evaporate? Someone or some country has made a profit from us and I would like to know who.

    March 11, 2009 at 7:06 pm |
  24. Doris

    President Obama stands firm, as he should for the people who elected him. I ask only that he gives his best in the interest of the people who support him. The Republicans, and others that seem negative at every turn, are angry because the Democrats swept the country with them. Their unexplainable neglect of the American people and taxpayers is not acceptable. Suddenly, they want to pay the debt, and stop spending money for the good of the country. The people are the country, and we are watching the political system every day. We will continue to watch, listen, learn, and respond for what we believe in and for what we pay for. Thank President Obama for that. It is no longer business as usual. If the president can be thanked for anything, it is for getting the attention of the people.

    March 11, 2009 at 6:58 pm |