Forbes magazine says the 400 most affluent people in the US are worth a record $2.2-trillion.
Five years after the financial crisis, the United State’s super-rich have recovered all their losses to see their wealth reach a historical high.
According to Forbes magazine, the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.02-trillion, up from $1.7-trillion in 2012, a collective fortune slightly bigger than Russia’s economy.
In another sign of fizziness at the top of the economy, the cost to enter the billionaires’ club has gone up to levels not seen since the 2008 crash.
This year, a plutocrat needs at least $1.3-billion to make the Forbes list — the highest since just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent stock markets plummeting.
Bill Gates has been named as the richest American for the 20th year in a row, with a personal fortune of $72-billion.
The computer entrepreneur turned philanthropist also recovered his position as the world’s richest man in May, when he overtook cellphone tycoon Carlos Slim, who had held the top spot for the previous four years.
Gates, the university dropout who founded Microsoft and has given away $28-billion since 1994, saw his fortune grow by $6-billion since 2012, partly helped by a rise in Microsoft’s stock price since August.
In second place is Warren Buffett, the investor feted for his shrewdness, who recently bought Heinz. Buffett, with a fortune of $58.5-billion, was one of the biggest gainers in 2013, which helped him to retain his place on the list.
The outspoken founder of software company Oracle, Larry Ellison, takes third place with a $41-billion fortune.
The richest woman in both the United States and the world is Christy Walton, who inherited a retail fortune when her husband died in 2005.
Walton is estimated to be worth $35.4-billion, thanks to her shares in the world’s largest supermarket, Walmart, which has annual sales of $466-billion.
She shares the Walmart fortune with her brother-in-law Jim and sister-in-law Alice, who take sixth and seventh place on the list with around $33-billion each.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg edged into the top 20 after his personal fortune doubled to $19-billion as the tech company’s stock price revived this year after a wobbly stock market debut in 2012.
But the social media tycoon is not the youngest on the list. That title belongs to his former dorm mate and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, 29, who is just a few days younger than Zuckerberg.
Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York who made a fortune with the eponymous news and data company, retains his place as the US’s richest politician.
Bloomberg, worth $31-billion is the US’s 10th richest individual and is due to stand down as mayor in December.
According to Forbes, one in 10 of the top 400 richest Americans are foreign-born.
These include George Soros, the Hungarian-born investor, who “broke the Bank of England” during the sterling crisis in 1992 and was wrongly pronounced dead by Reuters earlier this year.
Forbes reported that 34 people had slipped out of the rich list, including oilman T Boone Pickens, who lost his shirt investing in wind power at a time of falling gas prices, cutting his fortune to $950-million.
AOL founder Steve Case saw his fortune fall to $1.2-billion as an investment in LivingSocial, a rival to online discount website Groupon, turned sour. — © Guardian News & Media 2013