Money Matters - Simplified

Bill Gates tops Forbes billionaire list

World's richest man Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft

New York, October 1 -- Bill Gates has topped the Forbes list of billionaires, while the economic meltdown effected the rich, and tore down their assets.

The world's billionaires have not gone untouched by the economic crunch, and the Forbes 400 list has just been released to reaffirm that fact. A first in seven years, the accumulative wealth of the mega rich has gone down by $300 billion, from $1.57 trillion to $1.27 trillion.

The billionaire bloodbath
The economic slump has resulted in what is being called a billionaire bloodbath.

“It was a billionaire bloodbath out there,” Matthew Miller, a Forbes senior editor, said in a telephone interview today. “Just a score of people actually made money over the year. It’s been really bad. And there has been no industry that has been unscathed. You go from financials to real estate to energy to retail to tech: they all got worse.”

It has not remained necessary to be a billionaire anymore to be included in Forbes prestigious list. $950 million got an entry in this exclusive club this year.

The ultimate billionaire
The man who still emerged at the top was Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, still the richest American as quoted by Forbes. It is his second consecutive run. This year his collective assets got reduced by $7 billion to $50 billion.

Bill Gates was followed by investor Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. The 79-year-old's net worth was $40 billion, witnessing a drop of $10 billion, the biggest loss. Oracle's owner Lawrence Ellison came next.

Others in the list featured talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who got ranked at 141. Her net worth has decreased by $400 million. The Wal-Mart family members were at spots four through seven.

The gainers
The few who gained anything during this year were Andrew Beal, a fund manager at Henderson Global Investors Ltd. He ranked 52nd, and almost tripled his net worth by buying cheap loans and assets.

David Tepper, 52, founder of Appaloosa Management LP, was another one whose net worth escalated by 70 percent. All in all, there were only 28 gainers in the list.

"It is a great prism to look at the economy through," Miller said."When they are getting richer, you're more likely to get rich because they control the economy, how you eat, how you listen to music, what you wear, everything."

The top ten in the Forbes list have remain unchanged, in spite of incurring major losses.

Interestingly, the youngest billionaire was Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of social networking website called Facebook. His net worth was $2 billion.