How Billionaire Incomes Control the World Economy


In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, more and more turned against the famed 1% – that very small portion of the world’s population that holds the most wealth. The Occupy Wall Street movement started it all, yet, beyond this movement and its effects, the reality remains to be plainly observed all over the world. In 2013, billionaire incomes control the world economy to a larger extent than ever and in order to prove this, we’re bringing you some lesser-known facts and figures that attest to it, not just speculation and conspiracy theories.

The rich keep getting richer

While the recession has taken a toll on most economic segments, demographics, and areas of the world, it looks like the world’s 1% hasn’t suffered that much. In fact, their combined estimated wealth reached new heights in 2013, when the Forbes list of billionaires recorded some 200 new names, including Mark Zuckerberg. According to the same source, the 1,426 people on the list, with more than $1 billion to their name, are worth $5.4 trillion, up 17 per cent from the $4.6 trillion posted in 2012. American billionaires alone each have a total wealth of some $10.8 billion – a significant increase from the $9.1 billion they were worth in 2012. In the meantime, the United States as a whole has seen some economic decreases and now holds a net worth that’s lower than in the times of the Great Depression.

Male billionaire incomes control the world economy

As you may have already guessed it, most of the people on Forbes’ Billionaire list are men. And that’s actually the overwhelming majority, too: only 138 of all the reported billionaires in the entire world are women. In fact, that’s an improvement from the 104 women on the same list in 2012. This obviously ties in with several other global and national statistics. There are only 4% female CEOs in all companies around the world. In the United States, only 18 per cent of the members of Congress are women, and only 30 per cent of the District Court Judges are not men. Of course, being at the better end of the corporate food chain is not the only way for women (or men) to have their billionaire incomes control the world economy. Some are self-made, such as the late founder of international clothing brand Zara, who died in August 2013. And the single wealthiest woman in the world, Liliane Bettencourt, is an heiress to her father’s estate – she inherited the L’Oreal brand and is now worth $30 billion.

Most US billionaires were born into privilege

Not all of them, of course – some actually come from very humble backgrounds. The CEO of one of the most successful casino resorts in Las Vegas hails from the working class, with a taxi driver father. The majority shareholder at Baltimore Ravens grew up without a father, as the man died when the now-billionaire was only 8 years old. A female billionaire, equity firm Patriarch Partners founder Lynn Tilton is a Bronx native and a single mother putting in 100 hour work weeks on Wall Street.

At the other end, of course, there’s Bill Gates, the single richest man in America, whose family was upper middle class and had a successful lawyer for a dad. Two billionaires on the list, David and Charles Koch, are the sons of Fred C. Koch, who founded the Wood River Oil and Refining Company. They were ones to actually develop the business, known today as Koch Industries, into a successful, multi-billion dollar earning company. As popular wisdom will have it, the easiest way to become a billionaire was to have been born as a millionaire.

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