News Flash! Gates loses billions!
June 22, 2001 8:08 AM   Subscribe

News Flash! Gates loses billions! Yet, he still sits comfortably atop the list of the wealthiest people in the world. Larry Ellison, meanwhile, lost $21 billion, but fell to only #4.

The Billionaire Club now includes 538 members in 46 countries, with an average net worth of $3.2 billion. Is it more disturbing that, for a comparison, the GDP of Afghanistan is a paltry $21 billion (bested by the list's top 5)? Or that the GDP per capita of the U.S. is a relatively microscopic $36,144?
posted by padjet1 (11 comments total)
Peanuts. In 1920, Billy Durant lost about, if not more then one billion dollars through stock speculation and stretching Generous Motors to the limit, thats about ohhh, 90$ billion today, this was over the course of just a few months.
posted by clavdivs at 8:22 AM on June 22, 2001

Afghanistan actually has a GDP? From What? Does Bin Laden pay income tax?
posted by Rastafari at 9:14 AM on June 22, 2001

Why would that be disturbing? There's no mandate that everybody on the planet have the same income level. It seems to me that the key point of focus should not be the income gap, but rather the objective level of wealth in the country. In other words, let's imagine that you make $10,000 a year while your neighbor makes $100,000. Then the next year, you make $20,000 and your neighbor makes $1,000,000,000. So what? Let's use charities to help those who need help, and congratulate those who don't.
posted by gd779 at 10:30 AM on June 22, 2001

I looooove that you can search by country of residence, age, and marital status. A must-have tool for any golddigger.
posted by jennak at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2001

Things I found interesting:

1. All those Waltons! I'd love to be around when John-Boy says goodnight to Mary-Ellen nowadays.

2. Steve Ballmer. I had no idea he was that big a player financially.

3. Would you rather be Bill Gates or Paul Allen? Allen leaves Microsoft and spends the next few years essentially playing with big toys, and he's still #3. Gates may be #1, but he has to work.
posted by rodii at 10:53 AM on June 22, 2001

rodii: Well, Gates has his toys too- and besides, he left the CEO stuff to Ballmer so he could focus more on the new technologies stuff (a geek's true passion). You've got to hand it to Gates and Allen: Allen's been a big investor in the local Seattle area, while Gates is, if not currently, near to being the biggest philanthropist in the world ($21 billion and counting to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Compare that to the likes of Ellison, who from most accounts is a premiere jackass, and I take a little satisfaction in that egomaniac getting knocked down the heap a little...
posted by hincandenza at 11:04 AM on June 22, 2001

It's nice that most of the fortunes were built instead of inherited, though the Walton kids kind of stand out as an exception. Maybe they will eventually give the bulk of it away like Buffett plans to (and Gates is already doing).
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2001

Bill Gates doesn't have to work. He wants to. He's sick. He's a workaholic. He's addicted to work. It's his idea of fun. Besides when he chose to demote himself from being CEO, he probably looked at it like "taking it easy" and having fun. He's tinkering now. Trying to come up with new ideas and help mold and shape Microsoft's future products. Both Gates and Allen are having fun, but just in different ways. Gates could walk away from it all tomorrow, and never starve for as long as he lives.

Gates has the right idea though. Once you get to a certain level of wealth, it's not that you owe society anything, but your choice to act or not act can actually have serious repercussions. Philanthropy, charity, whatever the terminology, The Billionaires Club consists of people who have either built or been given, "a lever long enough to move the world" and what they do with that lever can potentially help or harm millions of people.

It's the best part of each one of us: the belief that anything is possible.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:23 AM on June 23, 2001

For those of us who make $30,000 a year (and less or more), sweating our foreheads off doing it, I submit this quote I just found:

"To turn $100 into $110 is work. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable" -- Edgar Bronfman

Also, funny story at the bottom of this page.

I must avoid involvment in this thread!
posted by crasspastor at 2:03 AM on June 23, 2001

In light of recent threads and topics urging us to put ourselves in other's shoes, let's now put ourselves in Bill Gate's optional shoe day at Microsoft's shoes.

True, the wealth of Gates is a little OD. Yet even still this fun little script should help elucidate just exactly what it's like to be a billionaire.

It doesn't quite work though if you live paycheck to paycheck like I and most Americans do (Another fun little script). Because when you enter in how much money you have on hand, spendable cash, the "Bill's Bills" equivalent to buying a bottle of Dom Perignon is $0. So much for the high life when they're giving it away for free. Uhh, yeah right!

Stick up for the bastards all you want. You know they'd jump at the chance with their business "brilliance" to stick it to you should you ever cross paths.
posted by crasspastor at 3:05 AM on June 23, 2001

You would prefer they give it to you? I'm not clear. I never understood disliking the rich because they're rich. Contrary to the spin, you can work your way up the ladder in America.
posted by owillis at 7:48 AM on June 23, 2001

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