Yes, the world has a new richest man.

Carlos Slim has moved up from third place to topple Bill Gates for the ‘richest’ crown, which Mr. Gates had held since 1995 (though a mere $500 million sets them apart-about 1% of their wealth).

Yet the real news of the latest Forbes billionaires list is the broad-based rebound in wealth for the world’s super rich. The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires soared a staggering 50%, from $2.4 trillion to $3.6 trillion.

The number of the world’s billionaires rose more than 20% to 1,011. That is a big improvement, and just shy of the record 1,125 billionaires in 2008. If the recovery continues this year, we could be breaking wealth records again in 2010 or 2011.

America by far still has the largest number of billionaires, with 40% of the total. But that is down from 45% a year ago.

How did the world’s rich get so much richer? Stock markets.

While rebounding stocks helped the population of millionaires, stocks helped the billionaires even more. The 60% bounce back in U.S. stocks-and even more in some overseas markets-went straight into the pockets of the billionaires because of their concentrated positions in publicly traded companies.

Mr. Slim’s fortune rose by $18.5 billion, largely reflecting the 35% rise in America Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile phone company. Mr. Gates’ fortune is up $13 billion because of the 50% rise in Microsoft shares.

In short, what the stock market had taketh, the stock market hath giveth back-at least to the billionaires.

Robert Frank

2009年全球富豪何以变得更富有?

不错,这个世界有了一个新的首富。

卡洛斯•斯利姆(Carlos Slim)击败比尔•盖茨(Bill Gates),从全球富豪榜第三位跃升至榜首(不过两人之间只差了五亿美元──约为其财富的1%)。自1995年以来,盖茨一直是全球首富。

Bloomberg News
卡洛斯•斯利姆在9月份纽约举行的克林顿全球倡议年会上发表讲话。
不过,最新《福布斯》富豪榜的真正新闻是全球超级富豪的财富普遍反弹。全球身价上十亿美元的富豪总财富飙升了50%,从2.4万亿美元增至3.6万亿美元。

全球身价上十亿美元的富豪人数增加了20%以上,至1,011人。这是一大进步,只比2008年创纪录的1,125位差了一点。如果今年继续复苏的话,将有望在2010年和2011年再次打破财富纪录。

美国仍是身价上十亿美元的富豪人数最多的国家,占了总数的40%,远远高于其他国家。不过却较一年前少了45%。

全球富豪如何变得更加富有了?都是股市帮了忙。

尽管股市反弹使百万富翁人数增多了,对身价上十亿美元的富豪的帮助则更大。美国股市反弹60%──涨幅甚至比一些海外市场还要大──直接就进入了富豪们的口袋,原因是他们在上市公司中有集中持仓。

斯利姆的财富增长了185亿美元,主要得益于拉美最大的手机公司America Movil股价涨了35%。在微软(Microsoft)股价涨幅50%的推动下,盖茨的财富增长了130亿美元。

总而言之,股市把拿走的又返还了──至少对富豪们是如此。

Robert Frank

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