According to the 2016 Forbes Billionaires List, the aggregate wealth of the world's 1,810 billionaires is approximately $6.5 trillion, exceeding the GDP of Japan, the world's third largest economy with a GDP of $4.4 trillion. In other words, the wealth of 0.00002% of the world's population accounts for 9 percent of the world's GDP of about $74 trillion.
How do we measure the net worth of a billionaire? The estimate is based on total asset value, including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash. If a person were a country, we'd measure GDP, which is commonly defined as the sum of the final uses of goods and services (excluding intermediate consumption) measured at purchasers’ prices, less the total value of imported goods and services. Based on this net worth-GDP comparison, we can draw the following comparisons from the Forbes 2016 data:
The United States is home to the largest number of billionaries (540 persons), accounting for 30 percent of the world's billionaires and 37 percent, or $2.4 trillion, of the group's aggregate wealth. The net worth of America's billionaires represents a remarkable 12 percent of US GDP. The next five countries by the number of billionaires are China (251), Germany (120), India (84), Russia (77) and Hong Kong (64). Compared to Forbes' survey one year ago, China demonstrated the largest gain in billionaries, adding 38 new billionaires to the ranking. If this trend continues, China will have more billionaires than the United States in 7 to 8 years.
In 2016, just 1 percent of the world's population owned more than 50 percent of the world's wealth. According to the data from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, inequlity of world wealth continues to grow every year. The Institute's assessment is based on a global analysis of national wealth—defined as the value of the financial assets plus real estate (housing) owned by the households, less their debts—and use of the Gini Index, a traditional measure of income distribution and, thereby, inequality. As noted in the Institute’s report:About 3.5 billion people—or, 73 percent of the global population—own less than $10,000.Another 900...