Billionaire boom boosts mega-rich ranks

Man throwing money in the air. | Newsreel
The world's billionaire ranks are growing and the mega-rich are getting richer. | Photo: Nattakorn Maneerat

In a world with a growing divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” the mega rich are amassing staggering fortunes.

The annual Forbes rich list, released this week, found the world has 2781 billionaires, 141 more than last year and 26 more than the previous record in 2021.

This group are worth a record $14.2 trillion collectively, up $2 trillion in a single year.

Some years ago, CNBC did the maths and found that $1 trillion in $100 bills would be enough to fill 4.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

In the Disney comics, Scrooge McDuck famously swam in his money in a giant room. These days he might need a bigger room.

The Forbes figures came as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released December quarter wealth figures showing household wealth rose for the fifth quarter in a row.

Over the three months, Australians were collectively $419 billion richer. Total household wealth was $15.7 trillion, 7.8 percent higher than a year ago.

“Household wealth saw a large boost from rising values of assets this quarter,” ABS head of finance statistics Dr Mish Tan said.

“House prices continued to grow significantly, as did domestic and overseas share markets.”

Share market growth in the quarter drove superannuation assets 3.9 percent higher.

Overall non-financial assets owned by households increased by 2 percent ($225 billion), driven by the $188.5b rise in the value of residential land and dwellings.

The Forbes global figures revealed that two thirds of the world’s mega-wealthy had lifted their worth over the past year and the 20 richest alone banked an extra $700 billion.

The United States has the most number of billionaires at 813 followed by China (473) and India (200).

Scrooge McDuck with his money
Scrooge McDuck liked to swim in his money. He may need a bigger room. | Photo: iStock