Forbes released its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans, and it turns out this has been a pretty good year for the super-rich. Here are some things we learned:
1. The top 400 are richer than last year
At $1.37 trillion, the combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans has gone up by 8 percent in past year. But it is still less than it was in the bubble years of 2007 ($1.54 trillion) and 2008 ($1.57 trillion).
2. Bill Gates remains on top
The Microsoft founder's net worth of $54 billion keeps him comfortably ahead of No. 2 Warren Buffett ($45 billion). This marks Gates' 17th consecutive year at No. 1.
3. Only one African-American made the list
And it's Oprah, coming in at No. 130, with $2.7 billion. So why did Forbes put Jay-Z on the cover? asks Hamilton Nolan in Gawker. Ostensibly because the hip-hop mogul "'will earn a spot on the Forbes 400 one day—as soon as he doubles his wealth"—but more likely because "Jay-Z's face on the cover sells magazines."
4. Michael Bloomberg is no longer the wealthiest New Yorker
Even with $18 billion, New York's Mayor Bloomberg (No. 10) is only the second-richest man in town, ranking five spots below industrialist David Koch (who, with $21.5 billion, is tied with his brother and fellow "shadowy puppet-master far-right Randian climate change denialist" Charles). Not only is Koch richer, says Salon's Alex Pareene, he's also more adept at "using his money to achieve his political goals than Mr. Bloomberg, who couldn't even manage to buy an Olympics."
5. California has the most billionaires
Thanks to a strong showing in the tech sector, the aptly named Golden State has 94 people on the Forbes 400 list. New York is second, with 75; Florida, boosted by a "favorable tax code," ranks third, with 26.
6. The average billionaire is an old white man—but there are exceptions
Gawker has done a demographic analysis of the list and found 10 Asian-Americans in the top 400, with four tracing their roots back to India; three openly gay billionaires; 34 women (Wal-Mart heiress Christy Walton is No. 4, with $24 billion); and 30 Jews in the top 100 (Bloomberg being the wealthiest).
7. Facebook's CEO is richer than Apple's
Mark Zuckerberg's net worth jumped 245 percent in the past year to $6.7 billion, catapulting him to No. 35. He now stands seven slots above Steve Jobs—whose $6.1 billion fortune, interestingly, derives mostly from shares in Disney, not Apple—and three above "old-media mogul" Rupert Murdoch. But even at 26, Zuckerberg isn't the youngest person on the list, notes Rachel Helyer Donaldson in The First Post. That honor goes to Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz (No. 290), who "was born eight days after his former business partner."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: September 30, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Eric Holder blew it as attorney general. His replacement will, too,
- What the Romney boomlet says about the establishment GOP's feeble 2016 field
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week