The 2009 rankings, just released by Forbes magazine, put Microsoft founder, and Buffett bridge partner, Bill Gates in the top position with an estimated wealth of $40 billion. That's a drop of $18 billion from last year's $58 billion, when Gates was number three.
Buffett is number two, with $37 billion, a decline of $25 billion from last year's $62 billion, or just over 40 percent. Forbes notes that Berkshire Hathaway's stock is down 45 percent over the twelve months.
The total amount of wealth (on paper) erased for Gates, Buffett and Slim is a stunning $68 billion.
They're not alone. The prominent headline of the Forbes cover is "Billionaire Bust." Its coverage begins:
"The richest people in the world have gotten poorer, just like the rest of us. This year the world's billionaires have an average net worth of $3 billion, down 23 percent in 12 months. The world has 793, down from 1,125 a year ago."
Buffett joked with us last year that he had topped Gates because he "spends less." It hardly seems possible, unless he gives up his jet, but Buffett may have to become even thriftier to stay competitive.
Current Berkshire stock prices:
Class A: [US;BRK.A 83700.0 --- UNCH (0) ]
Class B: [US;BRK.B 2740.0 --- UNCH (0) ]
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