The Star Early Edition
Markets wipe out billionaires’ fortunes
THE WORLD’S 400 richest people lost almost $194 billion (R3.1 trillion) last week as world stock markets began the year with a shudder on poor economic data in China and falling oil prices.
Forty-seven billionaires lost $1bn or more during the worst week for US stocks since 2011, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. The combined drop was almost seven times the $29bn lost in the first five trading days of last year.
The 400 people on the index had a combined $3.7 trillion at the end of the week, compared with more than $4 trillion a year ago.
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the best-performing billionaire in 2015, lost the most, his fortune dropping $5.9bn as shares of the world’s largest online retailer fell more than 10 percent. Bezos is the world’s fourth-richest person with $53.7bn and more than doubled his net worth last year as investors cheered profits at Amazon.
The world’s richest person, Bill Gates, fell $4.5bn to $79.2bn, while Spain’s Amancio Ortega, the second-richest, dropped $3.4bn to $69.5bn.
The combined loss among the billionaires represents a 4.9 percent dip in their total wealth, according to the index, a slightly better performance than world equity markets so far this year. Global stocks tumbled 6.2 percent for the week, according to the MSCI ACWI index.
There were 11 billionaires among the 400 whose fortunes rose this week, including the five heirs to Walmart Stores.