From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2007 - 17:22:37 EDT
Talking empirical research, here's two lists of the world's billionaires according to Forbes Magazine, by rank and by country of residence. Just a quick stick-and-paste job. To get an idea of the type of economic activity that they made the money from would take some additional research, which I haven't done yet, but it would reveal where the priorities of world capitalism really are at. Taxman-type calculations have been done of the type that an annual levy of 5.2% on the fortunes of the world's top 500 or so billionaires would be financially sufficient to guarantee essential needs for the whole world population. Of course if your socialism just consists of thinking that you have a better way to spend tax dollars, it is not much good yet. Spending tax dollars so you really get the result you want, is another story. Plus of course those who generate a lot of wealth don't take very kindly to people who want to take it off them, for the sake of some ethical principle. They would say, go and generate some wealth yourself! Which gets us back to the question of who really generates the wealth (it cannot be me, surely! and who is prepared to take responsibility for it). According to the CapGemini/Merrill-Lynch report on High Net Worth Individuals (US$1m+), the assets of the rich are invested as follows (2007 estimate): 22% alternative investments (structured products, hedge funds, managed funds, foreign currency, commodities including precious metals, and private equity and investments of passion such as fine arts & collectables). 15% real estate including direct real estate investments and REITs. 11% cash deposits 21% fixed income investments 31% equities In 2005, 8.7 million people owned more than US$ one million in financial assets, totalling US$33.3 trillion in assets. But as you can see, the wealthy aren't really all that great entrepreneurs in terms of their own investments, less than a third of their wealth is directly invested in stocks & shares and the like. Of course you could argue that indirectly more of their money is invested in equities. See: http://www.us.capgemini.com/DownloadLibrary/files/Capgemini_FSI_WWR06.pdf Here's part of the Forbes blurb: The World's Richest People Edited by Luisa Kroll and Allison Fass 03.08.07, 6:00 PM ET It has been a busy year for Forbes' team of fortune hunters. Strong equity markets combined with rising real estate values and commodity prices pushed up fortunes from Mumbai to Madrid. Forbes pinned down a record 946 billionaires. There were 178 newcomers, including 19 Russians, 14 Indians, 13 Chinese and 10 Spaniards, as well as the first billionaires from Cyprus, Oman, Romania and Serbia. Ingenuity, not industry, is the common characteristic; these folks made money in everything from media and real estate to coffee, dumplings and ethanol. Two-thirds of last year's billionaires are richer. Only 17% are poorer, including 32 who fell below the billion-dollar mark. The billionaires' combined net worth climbed by $900 billion to $3.5 trillion. That equates to $3.6 billion apiece. The average billionaire is 62 years old, two years younger than in 2005. This year's new billionaires are seven years younger than that. Of list members' fortunes, 60% made theirs from scratch. (...) But even in such a prosperous year, 44 people dropped off the list for various reasons. All our numbers are based on a snapshot of balance sheets taken on Feb. 9, the day we locked in stock prices and exchange rates. So the five executives who took their Fortress Investment Group (nyse: FIG - news - people ) public at 9:30 a.m. on that morning made the cut. Also on the list is Ernest Gallo, founder of E.&J. Gallo Winery, who died on March 6. But our numbers don't reflect the volatility that shook the markets three weeks later. Between Feb. 9 and March 2 the world's stock markets, as measured by the Morgan Stanley All Country World Local Index, fell by 3.7%. Some fortunes (those based on private accumulations of real estate, for example) didn't feel a blip. But some suffered severe damage. One big loser was a Spaniard, Enrique Banuelos, whose fortune fell 30% in four days. Are there billionaires we don't know about? Surely, yes. For instance, we didn't uncover Ireland's Denis O'Brien, who pocketed $800 million in a junk bond offering, until 13 days after we'd locked in fortunes, so he is not reflected in the rankings. Jurriaan Money, money, money Must be funny In the rich man's world Money, money, money Always sunny In the rich man's world Aha-ahaaa All the things I could do If I had a little money It's a rich man's world - Abba, "Money, money, money"
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