Bloomberg: World’s wealthiest people made $237 Billion in 2016
In a year when populist voters reshaped power and politics across Europe and the U.S., the world’s wealthiest people are ending 2016 with $237 billion more than they had at the start, informs Bloomberg.
Triggered by disappointing economic data from China at the beginning, the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union in the middle and the election of billionaire Donald Trump at the end, the biggest fortunes on the planet whipsawed through $4.8 trillion of daily net worth gains and losses during the year, rising 5.7 percent to $4.4 trillion by the close of trading Dec. 27, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“In general, clients rode through the volatility,” said Simon Smiles, chief investment officer for ultra-high-net-worth clients at UBS Wealth Management. “2016 ended up being a spectacular year for risk assets. Pretty remarkable given the start of the year.”
The gains were led by Warren Buffett, who added $11.8 billion during the year as his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway Inc. saw its airline and banking holdings soar after Trump’s surprise victory on Nov. 8.
The U.S. investor reclaimed his spot as the world’s second-richest person two days after Trump’s victory ignited a year-end rally that pushed Buffett’s wealth up 19 percent for the year to $74.1 billion.
The individual gains for the year were dominated by Americans, who had four of the five biggest increases on the index, including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person with $91.5 billion, and oilman Harold Hamm.
U.S. billionaires - including Buffett - favored Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton. Still, they profited from his victory when they added $77 billion to their fortunes in the post-election rally fueled by expectations that regulations would ease and American industry would benefit.
Investors and executives welcomed Trump’s picks, including billionaire Wilbur Ross to lead the Department of Commerce and former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary, who have a combined net worth of at least $5.6 billion, according to the index.
France’s Bernard Arnault was the sole non-American representative among the five best performers, adding $7.1 billion to take his fortune to $38.9 billion. His LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE said the Chinese luxury-goods market is improving.
Gates remained the world’s richest person throughout the year. Amancio Ortega, Europe’s richest person and founder of the Zara clothing chain, was in second place on the index for most of the year until he ceded it to Buffett in November. Ortega, who dropped $1.7 billion in 2016, is the world’s third-richest person with $71.2 billion.
Wildcatter Hamm’s fortune was propelled by a strengthening oil price and expectations a Trump administration will slash fossil-fuel regulations. Hamm added $8.4 billion to more than double his fortune to $15.3 billion.
Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, who doubled his fortune to $60 billion in 2015, led gains among technology executives again this year, rising $7.5 billion in 2016 on robust sales growth at the online retailer. He was followed by Facebook Inc. co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who added $5.4 billion.
China has 31 billionaires on the index with $262 billion, trailing the U.S.. which has 179 billionaires who control $1.9 trillion, and Germany, whose 39 individuals have $281 billion. Russian billionaires also began to put the negative effects of U.S. and European sanctions behind them, reversing the combined $63 billion declines for 2014 and 2015 and adding $49 billion in 2016.