Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Billionaires are down too

Like the rest of us, the richest people in the world have endured a financial disaster over the past year. Today there are 793 people on Forbes list of the world's billionaires, a 30% decline from a year ago.

Of the 1,125 billionaires who made last year's ranking, 373 fell off the list -- 355 saw declining fortunes, and 18 died. There are 38 newcomers plus three moguls who returned to the list after regaining their 10-figure fortunes. It is the first time since 2003 that the world has had a net loss in the number of billionaires.

Microsoft's Bill Gates lost $18 billion but regained his title as the world's richest person. Warren Buffett, last year's No. 1, saw his fortune decline $25 billion as shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, news, msgs) fell 40% in 12 months, but he still managed to slip just one spot, to No. 2. Mexican telecom titan Carlos Slim HelĂș, No. 2 a year ago, also lost $25 billion and dropped to No. 3.

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