2009 will be remembered by millions of ordinary people as the year they lost their job, their house, or the prospect of an education. For the rich, however, it was a bonanza.
The world’s billionaires saw their wealth grow by 50 percent last year, and their ranks swell to 1,011, from 793, according to the latest Forbes list of billionaires.
The combined net worth of these 1,011 individuals increased to $3.6 trillion, up $1.2 trillion from the year before. On average, each billionaire had his or her wealth increase by $500 million.
Four hundred and three billionaires reside in the United States. They constitute just 0.00014 percent of the country’s total population, but control 8 percent of the national wealth. Each of these individuals holds over 300 million times more wealth than the average US resident.
The list included 21 hedge fund managers, who as a group more than made up for whatever losses they incurred in 2008. Some of them, including James Simons, John Arnold, and George Soros, raked in profits during both the collapse and the market recovery.
Topping the list of wealthiest hedge fund managers was John Paulson, at $32 billion. Paulson made billions in 2008 by betting that the housing market would collapse, and billions more through the stock market recovery of 2009.