Tuesday, March 17, 2009


The wealthiest people have certainly taken a hit in the downturned economy. Mind you I am not crying sympathetic tears. They are not relegated to food stamps. A few weeks ago in commenting about the world’s hungry, I referenced the world’s capacity for feeding all the world’s people and I casually mentioned the world’s three wealthiest men in order of their worth from Warren Buffet with 62B, Carlos Slim Helu with 60B and William Gates III with 58B. Times change. A recent report informs us that the recession has knocked these boys around and Buffet got buffeted into second place losing 25B taking him to 37B. Helu and family also lost 25B rendering him next to penniless with 35B, and Gates claims top spot once again with a minimal loss of 18B for a worth of 40B.

Canadian billionaires are bumpkins in this extraordinary network of wealth. David Thompson and family of Canada rank twenty-fifth in the list of the world’s billionaires with 13B. Canadian Galen Weston and family have 5B, and brothers James, Arthur and John Irving share 3.9B. Vancouver’s Jim Pattison is a pauper at 2.1B. While Canada has 18 billionaires, the Unites States has 335. Customarily it takes people a number of years to acquire billionaire status so the average age among the world’s 793 billionaires is 63. Not Oprah. She is still riding a crest at 2.5B. What surprised me was the relative poverty of Donald Trump with 1.5B. Three hundred and seventy-three people lost their billionaire status during this past year. They will have to survive with multi millions of dollars.

No, don’t cry for them. The average Canadian family lost 14 thousand dollars this year and that hurts you much worse than the 15 or 20 billion of the big boys. Most have left their investment or RRSP portfolios intact waiting for recovery. That's advisable if you are young. Other people have pulled their monies out, unwilling to risk more. A financial advisor told me,"Well you only lost the gains that you have made over the last six years." That was a tactless comment and callous comfort.

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