"80 % of the wealth on this planet is in the hands of about 220 people". I heard this sentence on tv today, while they showed starving children. Anyhow - what can a single sane person do with more than a billion dollars? Think about this.

Here are those (enter curse here) gods of capitalism:

Forbes List of World's Richest People, 1999, without dictators and royalty.

Listings include name, home country, wealth in billions of dollars and source of wealth, where available.

1. Gates, William H. III, United States, 90.0, Microsoft
2. Buffett, Warren, United States, 36.0, Berkshire Hathaway
3. Allen, Paul, United States, 30.0, Microsoft
4. Ballmer, Steven, United States, 19.5, Microsoft
5. Oeri, Hoffman and Sacher families, Switzerland, 17.0, Roche pharmaceuticals
6. Anschutz, Philip, United States, 16.5, oil, railroads, telecommunications
7. Dell, Michael, United States, 16.5, Dell Computer
8. Walton, Alice L., United States, 16.0, inheritance (Wal-Mart Stores)
9. Walton, Helen R., United States, 16.0, inheritance (Wal-Mart Stores)
10. Walton, Jim C., United States, 16.0, inheritance (Wal-Mart Stores)
11. Walton, John T., United States, 16.0, inheritance (Wal-Mart Stores)
12. Walton, S. Robson, United States, 15.8, Wal-Mart Stores
13. Alsaud, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, Saudi Arabia, 15.0, investments
14. Bettencourt, Liliane, France, 13.9, cosmetics
15. Albrecht, Theo and Karl and family, Germany, 13.6, retailing
16. Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong, 12.7, real estate, telecommunications, diversified
17. Haniel family, Germany, 12.4, pharmaceuticals, diversified
18. Engelhorn, Curt and family, Germany, 12.0, pharmaceuticals
19. Thomson, Kenneth, Canada, 11.9, Thomson Corp
20. Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong, 11.1, real estate
21. Moore, Gordon Earl, United States, 10.9, Intel
22. Anthony, Barbara Cox, United States, 10.6, inheritance (Cox Enterprises)
23. Chambers, Anne Cox, United States, 10.6, inheritance (Cox Enterprises)
24. Kluge, John, United States, 10.5, Metromedia Co.
25. Walker, Jay, United States, 10.2, Priceline.com
26. Bezos, Jeffrey, United States, 10.1, Amazon.com
27. Quandt family, Germany, 9.9, BMW
28. Mulliez, Gerard, France, 9.8, retail
29. Kwok, Walter, Thomas, Raymond, Hong Kong, 9.7, real estate
30. Ellison, Larry, United States, 9.5, Oracle
31. Rausing, Gad, Sweden, 9.0, packaging
32. Redstone, Sumner, United States, 8.7, Viacom
33. Schwab, Charles, United States, 8.7, discount stock brokerage
34. Berlusconi, Silvio, Italy, 8.0, media
35. Slim Helu, Carlos, Mexico, 8.0, diversified
36. Omidyar, Pierre, United States, 7.8, eBay
37. Takei, Yasuo, Japan, 7.8, consumer finance
38. Turner, Ted, United States, 7.8, Turner Broadcasting
39. Kerkorian, Kirk, United States, 7.3, investments
40. Haefner, Walter, Switzerland, 7.2, computers, cars
41. Murdoch, Rupert, United States, 7.2, publishing
42. Schwarz, Dieter, Germany, 7.1, retailing
43. Boehringer family, Germany, 7.1, pharmaceuticals
44. Olayan, Suliman, Saudi Arabia, 7.1, Olayan Investment Co.
45. Persson, Stefan, Sweden, 7.0, retailing
46. Rausing, Hans, Sweden, 7.0, packaging
47. Beisheim, Otto, Germany, 6.8, retailing
48. Saji, Keizo, Japan, 6.7, Suntory
49. Schmidt-Ruthenbeck family, Germany, 6.6, retailing
50. Landolt, Pierre and family, Switzerland, 6.4, Novartis
51. Pinault, Francois, France, 6.4, retail
52. SeydouxSchlumberger families, France, 6.4, diversified
53. Son, Masayoshi, Japan, 6.4, software
54. Arnault, Bernard, France, 6.0, luxury goods
55. Tsai Wan-lin and family, Taiwan, 5.9, insurance, financial services
56. Knight, Philip, United States, 5.8, Nike
57. Wang, Y.C., Taiwan, 5.8, Formosa Plastics
58. Otto, Michael, Germany, 5.7, retailing
59. Arison, Theodore (Ted), Israel, 5.6, Carnival Corp.
60. Defforey family, France, 5.6, Carrefour
61. Haub, Erivan and family, Germany, 5.6, retailing
62. Woeste, Albrecht and Henkel family, Germany, 5.6, chemicals
63. Latsis, Spiro, Greece, 5.4, banking
64. Hopp, Dietmar and sons, Germany, 5.2, software
65. Gerling, Rolf, Germany, 5.1
66. Herz, Gunter and family, Germany, 5.1, consumer products
67. Winnick, Gary, United States, 5.1, investments
68. Arison, Micky, United States, 5.0, Carnival Cruise Lines
69. Hewlett, William Redington, United States, 5.0, Hewlett-Packard
70. Kirch, Leo, Germany, 5.0, media
71. Piech, Ferdinand and family, Austria, 5.0, Porsche
72. Pritzker, Robert, United States, 5.0, financier
73. Tschira, Klaus, Germany, 5.0
74. Flick, Friedrich Karl Jr., Germany, 4.9
75. Sainsbury family, Britain, 4.9
76. Halley, Paul-Louis and family, France, 4.8, retailing
77. Ito, Masatoshi and family, Japan, 4.8, retail
78. Kinoshita, Kyosuke, Japan, 4.8, consumer finance
79. Scott, Walter Jr., United States, 4.8, construction, telecommunications
80. Skoll, Jeffrey, United States, 4.8, eBay
81. Tsutsumi, Yoshiaki, Japan, 4.8, real estate
82. von Finck, August and family, Germany, 4.8, insurance (Allianz AG)
83. Al-Kharafi, Nasser, Kuwait, 4.7, M. A. Al Kharafi & Sons
84. Ricketts, J. Joe, United States, 4.7, Ameritrade
85. Wurth, Reinhold, Germany, 4.7
86. Waitt, Theodore, United States, 4.6, Gateway 2000
87. Kuok, Robert, Malaysia, 4.5, diversified
88. Langmann, Hans Joachim, Germany, 4.5, chemicals
89. Newhouse, Donald, United States, 4.5, media
90. Newhouse, S.I., United States, 4.5, media
91. Sabanci, Sakip and family, Turkey, 4.5, conglomerate
92. Cheng Yu-tung, Hong Kong, 4.4, real estate
93. Hostetter, Amos Jr., United States, 4.4, Continental Cablevision
94. Lauder, Leonard A., United States, 4.4, inheritance (cosmetics)
95. Lauder, Ronald S., United States, 4.4, cosmetics
96. Malone, John, United States, 4.4, cable TV
97. Plattner, Hasso, Germany, 4.4, SAP
98. Schmidheiny, Stephan, Switzerland, 4.4, ABB
99. Bronfman, Edgar Sr., United States, 4.3, Seagram Co.
100. Fisher, Donald, United States, 4.3, The Gap
101. Fisher, Doris, United States, 4.3, The Gap
102. Jahr, John and family, Germany, 4.3, publishing
103. Reimann family, Germany, 4.3
104. Shigeta, Yasumitsu, Japan, 4.3, software
105. Annenberg, Walter Hubert, United States, 4.2, publishing
106. Johnson, Abigail, United States, 4.2, Fidelity Investments
107. McCaw, Craig, United States, 4.2, telephones
108. Perelman, Ronald, United States, 4.2, investments
109. Filo, David, United States, 4.1, Yahoo!
110. Al-Hariri, Rafik and family, Lebanon, 4.0, construction, banking
111. Benetton, Luciano and family, Italy, 4.0, apparel
112. Mars, Forrest Sr., United States, 4.0, candy (Mars Inc.)
113. Mars, Forrest Jr., United States, 4.0, candy (Mars Inc.)
114. Mars, John, United States, 4.0, candy (Mars Inc.)
115. Perot, H. Ross, United States, 4.0, electronic data management
116. Schickedanz family, Germany, 4.0
117. Soros, George, United States, 4.0, money management
118. Vogel, Jacqueline Mars, United States, 4.0, candy (Mars Inc.)
119. Wang, Nina, Hong Kong, 4.0, real estate
120. Yang, Jerry, United States, 4.0, Yahoo! Inc.
121. Bertarelli, Ernesto, Switzerland, 3.9, Ares-Serono
122. Bronfman, Charles, Canada, 3.7, Seagram Co.
123. Irving, James, Arthur and Jack, Canada, 3.7, diversified, including Irving Oil
124. Packer, Kerry, Australia, 3.7, Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd.
125. Broad, Eli, United States, 3.6, home building
126. Dolan, Charles, United States, 3.6, cable TV
127. Johnson, Samuel C., United States, 3.6, S.C. Johnson & Son
128. Matsuda, Kazuo, Japan, 3.6, consumer finance
129. Mori, Akira, Japan, 3.6, real estate
130. Perez Companc, Gregorio, Argentina, 3.6, conglomerate
131. Bass, Lee, United States, 3.5, oil, investments
132. Brost and Funke families, Germany, 3.5
133. Del Vecchio, Leonardo, Italy, 3.5, eyewear
134. Kamel, Saleh, Saudi Arabia, 3.5, Dallah Albaraka
135. Perenchio, A. Jerrold, United States, 3.5, television
136. Botin, Emilio and family, Spain, 3.4, banking
137. Dassault, Serge and family, France, 3.4, aviation
138. von Holtzbrinck, Dieter and family, Germany, 3.4, publishing
139. Agnelli, Giovanni and family, Italy, 3.3, autos
140. Grosvenor, Gerald Cavendish, Britain, 3.3, real estate
141. Heineken, Alfred, Netherlands, 3.3
142. Ng Teng Fong and Robert, Singapore, 3.3, real estate
143. Schmidheiny, Thomas, Switzerland, 3.3, Holderbank
144. Ergen, Charles, United States, 3.2, EchoStar (satellite TV)
145. Greenberg, Maurice, United States, 3.2, American International Group
146. Huntsman, Jon Meade, United States, 3.2, plastics, chemicals
147. Khoo Teck Puat, Singapore, 3.2, investments
148. Kwek Leng Beng, Singapore, 3.2, diversified
149. Mohn, Reinhard and family, Germany, 3.2, media
150. Sturm, Donald L., United States, 3.2, telecommunications
151. Verspieren/ Decoster family, France, 3.2
152. Bren, Donald L., United States, 3.1, real estate
153. Kipp, Karl-Heinz, Germany, 3.1
154. Lerner, Alfred, United States, 3.1, MBNA (finance)
155. Oshima, Kenshin, Japan, 3.1, finance
156. Wrigley, William, United States, 3.1, Wrigley gum
157. Al Rajhi, Saleh bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia, 3.0, banking
158. Bass, Sid Richardson, United States, 3.0, investments
159. Goodnight, James, United States, 3.0, SAS Institute
160. Hillman, Henry Lea, United States, 3.0, industrial holdings
161. Iwasaki, Fukuzo, Japan, 3.0, Iwasaki Sangyo
162. Koch, Charles De Ganahl, United States, 3.0, Koch Industries
163. Koch, David Hamilton, United States, 3.0, Koch Industries
164. Oetker, Rudolf and family, Germany, 3.0, diversified
165. von Siemens family, Germany, 3.0
166. Wonowidjojo family, Indonesia, 3.0, tobacco
167. Crown, Lester, United States, 2.9, diversified
168. Ebner, Martin, Switzerland, 2.9, investments
169. Mann, Hugo, Germany, 2.9, furniture stores, supermarkets
170. Moller, Maersk Mc-Kinney, Denmark, 2.9, shipping
171. Moores family, Britain, 2.9
172. Sorenson, James L., United States, 2.9, medical devices
173. Buffett, Susan Thompson, United States, 2.8, Berkshire Hathaway
174. Koc, Rahmi and family, Turkey, 2.8, Koc Holding
175. Kristiansen, Kjeld Kirk, Denmark, 2.8, Lego
176. Mendoza, Lorenzo and family, Venezuela, 2.8, Empresas Polar
177. Premji, Azim Hasham, India, 2.8, information technology
178. Wexner, Leslie Herbert, United States, 2.8, The Limited
179. Bass, Robert Muse, United States, 2.7, investments
180. Davis, Marvin H., United States, 2.7, investments
181. Fentener van Vlissingen family, Netherlands, 2.7, retailing, travel services
182. Hector, Hans-Werner, Germany, 2.7
183. Jacobs, Klaus, Switzerland, 2.7
184. Marcus, Bernard, United States, 2.7, Home Depot
185. Branson, Richard, Britain, 2.6, diversified
186. Ermirio de Moraes, Antonio and family, Brazil, 2.6, mining, cement, pulp and paper
187. Goldschmeding, Frits, Netherlands, 2.6
188. Hsu, Douglas and family, Taiwan, 2.6, Far Eastern Group
189. Ingram, Martha Robinson Rivers, United States, 2.6, inheritance (Ingram)
190. Itoyama, Eitaro, Japan, 2.6, Shin Nihon Kanko
191. Kamprad, Ingvar, Sweden, 2.6, Ikea
192. Naify, Robert Allen, United States, 2.6, movie theaters
193. Takenaka, Toichi and family, Japan, 2.6, construction, civil engineering
194. Ty, George, Philippines, 2.6, banking
195. Brenninkmeyer, Herman and family, Netherlands, 2.5, retailing
196. Faria, Dr. Aloysio de Andrade, Brazil, 2.5, banking
197. Geffen, David, United States, 2.5, entertainment
198. Icahn, Carl Celian, United States, 2.5, investments
199. Safra, Edmond, Lebanon, 2.5, Republic Bank
200. Sahenk, Ayhan and family, Turkey, 2.5, Garanti Bank
201. Simplot, John R., United States, 2.5, potatoes 202. Widjaja, Eka Tjipta, Indonesia, 2.5, pulp and paper, food
203. Bin Mahfouz, Khalid, Saudi Arabia, 2.4, banking, investments
204. Kadoorie, Michael and family, Hong Kong, 2.4, family of merchants
205. Malone, Mary Alice Dorrance, United States, 2.4, inheritance (Campbell Soup)
206. Rockefeller, David Sr., United States, 2.4, investments
207. Schoerghuber, Stefan, Germany, 2.4, services, breweries, construction, real estate
208. Taylor, Jack Crawford, United States, 2.4, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
209. Dorrance, John T. III, Ireland, 2.3
210. Dumas, Jean-Louis and family, France, 2.3, Hermes International
211. Foriel-Destezet, Phillipe, France, 2.3, temporary help agency
212. Fukuda, Yoshitaka, Japan, 2.3, consumer finance
213. Louis-Dreyus, Gerard and family, France, 2.3, commodities trading
214. Mantegazza, Sergio, Switzerland, 2.3, travel services
215. Otsuka, Masahito, Japan, 2.3
216. Rocca, Roberto and family, Argentina, 2.3, diversified
217. Sy, Henry and family, Philippines, 2.3, shopping malls
218. Yamaguchi, Hisakazu and family, Japan, 2.3, manufacturing
219. Birck, Michael, United States, 2.2, Tellabs
220. David-Weill, Michel, France, 2.2, finance

Update: As this list excludes some persons this are not really the 220 richest living persons. As it was pointed out, the Sultan of Brunei would be in this list, as well as the Queen of Great Britain and Saddam Hussein. This was the only list I could lay hands on. The sum of money would be much larger.

iandunn, back when he had a writeup here, was right to point out that individual people have little use for more than a handful of millions of dollars. Once you amass wealth greater than that you are pretty much falling into one of a few categories:

  • Getting into position to buy a company personally, which since you are already wealthy is probably only for kicks or something to do
  • Setting up a family
  • Buying a small nation
  • Not planning on using your money because it has become an end in itself, or
  • Wondering what to do with the money.

The last is most common. A professional fund-raiser I know has had great successes with the wealthy, because people like to feel helpful. And Wealthy people are acutely aware of the degree to which they can be helpful. All she needs to do is approach those fortunate friends, once, in the right tone of voice, pointing out a way that they could help with a cause they believe in. And it does wonders. She asked for ten thousand dollars from one friend, and after most of a year got a million from the friend's community, each family pitching in something like my family's biannual income like it was small change. Why did they give? It was from a friend, who they trusted; everyone else was doing it; it wasn't forced or badgered out of them; there wasn't a trace of class warfare or making the wealthy wrong in it. Having a valid, reliable, and friendly channel by which to funnel wealth to a charitable cause is one of the big roadblocks in giving. Guilt-based giving is not stable because it polarizes.

That doesn't change that few ever give so much that it makes a major dent in their income.

Alex, my total is 1.3 trillion. Good point about wild claims. However, the concentration of wealth is still amazing. Possibly what happened was the person on tv started to say that 80% of the wealth is in the hands of 20% of the people (Pareto's Law), but then misspoke. On the other hand, TV is not a fountain of accuracy (remember US Election 2000?). Also, it doesn't take 20% of the people in the world to amass 80% of the riches, so if it was a misspeaking, then the person was especially confused. I wonder what the n with 1-n rule gives here?

Tobtoh, good point. However, these executives still have a hell of a lot of money. What I said applies to the upper class in general, certainly not only people with a billion or more.

I wonder what portion of my rep comes from Gates-smashing (since deleted) and what from the later more complicated parts of the node...

I think that the statement "80 % of the wealth on this planet is in the hands of about 220 people" is disinformation. Without doing the formal addition of the quoted Forbes list of top billionaires, my eyeballing and back of the envelope calculation says that the total of these top 220 people is roughly US$1 trillion (U.S. trillion, 10^9).

Considering that the U.S. national debt itself is roughly 5 trillion dollars, how the f**king heck can it be possible that these top 220 people hold 80% of the world's wealth?

Get the facts right. The U.S. national debt alone dwarfs the amount held by these people. There are countries other than the U.S. in the world too. Heck, just look at the market capitalisation of the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) -- the total there, IIRC, is something of the order of $10 trillion.

The concentration of wealth amongst the very rich is far less evident than the claims. I do not doubt that there is some concentration of wealth, but it is nowhere near as bad as this statement suggests and it is ridiculous to make outlandish claims so far off the mark such as this.

Shame on anyone who believed statements such as these without checking it out themselves. Two lessons:
1. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof
2. Don't believe everything you read/hear

In response to brutha's 'What can a single sane person do with more than a billion dollar?':

While I agree with the sentiments in the writeups above, I would like to point out one thing about a lot of the wealth that is mentioned above - it is paper profit.

If the above mentioned people are like any other executive of a major corporation, they will no doubt have a large mega million dollar salarly. However, they will also have large share and/or share option packages as well. Naturally, the value of the shares and share options are calculated into their net worth, however, this isn't money that is readily available to these moguls should they suddenly wish to spend 20 million dollars.

For instance, share options often have a strike date - this is a date when you can 'cash in' (the actual term is vest) the options and convert them to cash or stock. Until you reach this date, the stock options are effectively worthless as a form of liquid money.

Even if the mogul has stock, he can't sell large blocks of it at once without raising questions about why the CEO is selling stock in his own company. Everyone starts getting suspicious when a CEO starts selling his own stock - they take that as a sign that the CEO knows that the company is headed for trouble and selling in advance - net effect? the share price starts sliding thereby wiping out some (sometimes most) of the value of the company and thereby the net worth of the mogul.

This is not to say that the list of people above aren't rich - they most definitely are. I'm just commenting not to view their net worth as literally $30 billion in cash - most of that will be shares and share options - effectively cash that cannot be accessed in large amounts for sometime.

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