World’s wealthiest get wealthier in 2016

2016 was a very good year for the world’s wealthiest people who saw their combined wealth increase by a total of $US 237 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Leading the way was Warren Buffet, the world’s second-richest person, who added $US 11.8 billion, or 19% of his total worth, to his fortune now valued at $US 74.1 billion. This averages out to a staggering $US 32.2 million per day for the founder of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway. Buffet has pledged to donate the majority of his fortune to charity.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who is valued at $US 91.5 billion, remains the world’s wealthiest person, and four of the five wealthiest people in the world were individuals. The United States has 179 billionaires on the index with a combined worth of $US1.9 trillion, Germany has 39 billionaires worth $US 281 billion while China has 31 billionaires worth $US 262 billion.

The world’s third-richest person is the only non-American in the top five. He is the Spaniard and the world’s wealthiest European, Amancio Ortega, who founded the Zara clothing chain. Despite seeing his total wealth decrease by $US 1.7 billion across 2016 he is still valued at $71.2 billion overall. The best performing non-US billionaire over 2016 was France’s Bernard Arnault who controls the LVMH, Moet, Hennessy and Louis Vuitton labels.

Other notable billionaires include Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com founder, who saw his wealth double in value over the course of 2015, added a further $7.5 billion to his fortune largely due to increasing online sales. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook co-founder, added $US 5.4 billion to his overall wealth.

Despite not backing his candidacy, many of the world’s wealthiest men from the United States, were able to profit from the election of Donald Trump as the next US President. They were able to add a combined $US 77 billion to their fortunes on the back of expectations that Trump will likely ease regulations which will spur on American industry.

Having so much money begs the question of how it should be spent. In response to this Buffet and Gates, the world’s two wealthiest individuals, established The Giving Pledge, in “an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will.”

Buffet and Gates are also leading the way through their actions. In 2006, Buffett committed to “gradually give away all” of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic foundations. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, have committed the “vast majority” of their assets to their Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which focuses on stopping preventable diseases and tearing down health and education barriers which prevent people from making the very most of their lives.

To see what other billionaires have committed to, visit The Giving Pledge website.