Mexico's Slim is still richest on the planet
Mexico's mobile phone tycoon Carlos Slim held on to his place at the head of this year's Forbes Rich List, published yesterday.
With a personal fortune of $74bn (€53bn), he is comfortably ahead of Bill Gates, occupying second position with a sizeable $56bn (€40bn).
In fact, the pecking order of the planet's richest individuals has not changed at the very top. The list has grown much longer, however -- 1,140 people compared to 937 a year ago -- with the so-called "BRIC" nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China contributing more names than ever before.
Add the fortunes of all the billionaires on the planet together and you come out with a record $4.5tr (€3.2tr), which is a bit larger than the gross domestic product of Germany. More than 200 people have joined the list for the first time and there are more women, too, up to 102 from 89 last year.
But in a lament that sounded a lot like "Where's the money?", Britain was singled out yesterday as a leading power with fewer super-rich individuals in its midst than might be expected, with its taxation laws a main culprit.
Releasing the latest Forbes world billionaire's list, the magazine's publisher, Steve Forbes, labelled Britain's 50pc tax rate for top earners as "ridiculous".
He then expressed his disdain for the British government's assertion that the new rate affected only a slender group of people. "You are making sure you only have a few people who make it into that bracket because of the policies you are pursuing," he declared.
The latest roster of the rich "reflects the extraordinary changes taking place in the global economy", Mr Forbes said.
While the BRIC quartet and some countries in Asia-Pacific (not including Japan) are taking more spots on the list this year, there is stasis or even retreat in Europe and the US. Germany had one less billionaire this year, largely because two of last year's contingent died.
A decade ago, half of all billionaires lived and built their fortunes in the US; today it is only one in three. Most of those are concentrated in California and also in New York where no less than 67 billionaires reside, according to Forbes. (© Independent News Service)