It's been a bumper year for the world elite, according to the latest Forbes magazine publication of their billionaires list. Steve Forbes says 'This is the richest year ever in human history. Never in history has there been such a notable advance'. What he means by this, is that the total number of billionaires - who qualify in US dollar terms - has jumped in one single year from 793 to 946, and their combined wealth has exploded by 35% to US$3.5 trillion. According to Forbes co-editor Luisa Kroll says 'It's just been kind of an extraordinary year for markets worldwide'. According to the Guardian, this has all occurred 'on the back of rising property prices, commodities and stock markets'.
Some interesting trends are apparent in the latest list. First, Asia continues it elite growth. India has added a further 14 billionaires to the list, taking their total to 36 - now ahead of Japan's 24. China has added 14, and together with Hong Kong, 'communist' China now has 41 billionaires. Free-market Russia, however, now has 53, putting it in second place after Germany. The US is still far in the lead with 415 billionaires, but proportionally it keeps falling.
At the top of the list is still Bill Gates with $56b, then Warren Buffett with $52b. Third place, however, goes to Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican telecom entrepreneur, who has gained $19b in one single year to take his wealth to $49b. According to Forbes magazine he is despised and mistrusted in Mexico, where massive poverty means that annual per capita income is less than $6,800. According to a WSWS commentary, 'the entire list stink of parasitism, corruption and outright gangsterism. That is the state of the global rich today'.