The number of billionaires in ‘Forbes’ magazine’s annual ranking fell to 793 from 1,125 last year, the first time since 2003 that the number of people on the list decreased and the biggest drop since the magazine began the ranking 23 years ago.
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The total net worth of the list fell to $2.4 trillion from $4.4 trillion last year, with the average billionaire worth $3 billion, down from $3.9 billion. The three wealthiest—Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman Warren Buffett and Mexican telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim Helú—lost a combined $68 billion in the past year.
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The ranking includes citizens of 52 countries and one principality. The US had the most billionaires on the list, with 359, down from 469 last year. Europe had 196, Asia-Pacific had 130, West Asia and Africa 58, and the Americas outside the US had 50. India lost more than half of its billionaires, while Russia lost two-thirds.
New York City now boasts the most billionaire residents, with 55, replacing Moscow, which came in third, behind London. The number of Americans in the top 20 rose to 10 from four last year.
The number of new billionaires fell to 38 from 226 last year.
There were 355 people who dropped off the list, including former Citigroup Inc. chairman Sanford Sandy Weill, 75, and the two youngest members last year—Mark Zuckerberg, 24, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., the world’s largest social networking site; and Hind Hariri, daughter of assassinated former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. The average age rose to 63.7 years from 61 last year, in part because of the losses in Russia and China, where the average age of billionaires last year was in the 40s. The youngest is Germany’s Albert von Thurn und Taxis, 25, ranked 318th with a net worth of $2.1 billion.
Video by Vaishali Jain