Mar 23, 2012
Forbes recently published a list of the 1,226 wealthiest people on the planet. Usually, “top” lists come in round numbers like 10 or 100, but Forbes seems to have set the cutoff at $1 billion in assets rather than at a defined number of people.
I guess one of the benefits of being a billionaire is that you do not get treated like a number—which is a bit ironic since it’s a number that makes a billionaire a billionaire.
Not cutting minor billionaires from the list of wealthiest planet-dwellers is probably a good strategy for Forbes since the magazine carries a lot of ads for private jets and yachts. No doubt some billionaires would be inclined to drop their subscription if they were eliminated on a technicality. This could hurt the magazine’s ability to convince advertisers that Forbes is the best place to reach all 1,226 people who can actually afford a private jet or a yacht.
I was a bit surprised that there are only 1,226 known billionaires on the planet. (By the way, does the term “on the planet” exclude those who may be in transit to the moon? I hear there are flights. Or, is “on the planet” just money-speak for “in the world”?) Frankly, given inflation, I expected there to be more. Even though a dollar is only worth 20% of what it used to be, I guess amassing a billion of them is still relatively rare.