When you talk about inequality you run the risk of looking down and not up. However, the string is being taut, especially on the highest flank of the distribution. The cream of the crop of world wealth, 0.1% of 0.1%, lived in 2021 one of its best years: with the stock markets soaring and the real estate markets at maximum, the The 20 largest fortunes in the world saw their joint assets grow by 500,000 million dollars (440,000 million euros), almost 30% more. It’s a lot, a lot of money: to put the figure into context, suffice it to say that would be enough to fully buy the 10 largest companies on the Ibex 35 and there would still be 5,000 million left over to, for example, take over half of the Spanish-British group of airlines IAG.
The scepter of the richest person on the planet changed hands in 2021. The founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, surpassed the founder and owner of 10% of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, thanks to the stock market growth of the electric car manufacturer. The actions of Tesla have shot up 50% this year and accumulate two consecutive years of bulky profits, and that has a direct impact on the wealth of the South African-born businessman, who, despite recent sales of share packages, still holds 17% of the capital of the company based in Austin (Texas).
Beyond the dispute for the throne of global wealth, there have been important movements in the table. It stands out, above all, the improvement of the two founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, which jointly control 51% of the shares of the Mountain View (California) technology company and which climb two positions: Page joins the quintet of wealthiest men on the planet and Brin is placed in seventh place.
On the opposite side, Warren Buffett, founder and thinking head behind the successful investment company Berkshire Hathaway, falls two places despite seeing his assets increase by almost 22,000 million dollars. That is one of the great paradoxes of this list: in a general panorama of notable increases in wealth, some of these fortunes do not have to see your wealth diminish, or even stagnate, to drop a position on the list.
If industry and distribution were the sectors from which most of the money in the world’s 20 largest wealth traditionally came, the technology Today it is the sector on which the fortunes of eight of the 20 richest people on the planet are built. All of them are among the top ten places in the table. The distribution sector adds three other names (the Waltons, owners of Walmart); textiles have two (Amancio Ortega, from Inditex, and Phil Knight, from Nike), and luxury (Bernard Arnault, from LVMH), investment (Warren Buffett, from Berkshire Hathaway), cosmetics (Françoise Bettencourt, from L ‘Oréal), energy and raw materials (Mukesh Ambani, from Reliance Industries), bottled water (Zhong Shanshan, from Nongfu Spring), port infrastructure (Gautam Adani, from Adani Group) and telecommunications (Carlos Slim, from América Móvil), one each.
The robot portrait: men and Americans
The rich list is still a man’s thing. To find a feminine name you have to go back to the eleventh step, in which the French Bettencourt appears, heir to the L’Oréal empire and daughter of Liliane Bettencourt, who was also the richest woman in the world for decades. And to find the second woman in the ranking, you have to go back to the last position, the twentieth, in which Alice Walton appears, one of the three heirs of another empire: that of the American supermarket chain Walmart, along with its two brothers Jim and Rob, who are ranked seventeenth and eighteenth.
The American dominance is equally overwhelming: 14 of the 20 have the blue passport of the first world power. Two others are French (Arnault and Bettencourt); two, Indians (Ambani and Adani); one, Spanish (Ortega); and one more, Chinese (Shanshan). Although the trickle of Asian names onto the list has been the predominant note in recent years, the recent economic explosion on this continent still does not have an equivalent reflection in either the rankings of the largest companies or the richest in the world. Time to time.
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The richest in the world increased their wealth by 30% in 2021