Billionaires (was re: Suresh Naidu's Arguments)

Mitchell Porter (
Sun, 20 Oct 1996 22:16:10 +1000 (EST)

[Suresh Naidu]
> a statistic I heard was that 358 people controlled 45% of the worlds wealth.

This is surely a mutated version of a statement from the 1996 Human
Development Report (published by the UN Development Programme, According to _West Africa_ magazine (5-11 August 1996,

"According to the Human Development Report 1996, the net worth of the
358 richest people - _Forbes Magazine_ of the US puts the number at
447 dollar billionaires - is equal to the combined income of the
poorest 45 per cent of the world population, that is 2.3 billion people."

You can also see those numbers here:
<a href="">UNDP Press Release</a>

I don't know which issue of _Forbes_ lists the billionaires, but _West
Africa_ goes on to say:

"The number of billionaires in the world has risen from 147 to 447 [between
1960 and 1991, I think -MP], and for just last year, the number rose by
25 per cent... _Forbes_ says there are 149 billionaires in the US, 51 in
Germany and 40 in Japan. Others are Hong Kong, 17; Mexico, 15; France, 14;
Brazil, 10; Thailand, 10; and the UK, 7. The US's leading billionaires
are Bill Gates with $18bn; Warren Buffet, $15bn; Paul Sacher, $13bn;
Lee Shau Kee, $12bn; and Tsai Wanlin, $12bn."

_West Africa_ lists global GDP for 1993 as $23 trillion. $447 billion
is just under 2% of that, so perhaps we can say that all those
billionaires control at least 1% of the world's wealth.