The number of individuals making it into the worldwide ‘billionaire’ group has steadily increased in recent years, which shows that despite ongoing financial crises, the rate of people achieving a net worth status of over a billion dollars has remained largely unaffected by the recession. Many of the world’s top billionaires created their fortunes by controlling, and effectively monopolizing key global industries, and due to their significant influence over these industries, they have also become some of the most powerful individuals in the world.
Forbes’ 2012 ‘Rich List’ reports that there are 1,226 billionaires located across the globe, who have a combined net worth of $4.6 trillion. The majority of the world’s wealthiest people live in the USA, which boasts an estimated 425 billionaires; while Russia and China have the next highest with 96 and 95 billionaires respectively. These figures indicate a significant contrast in the location of the world’s wealthiest people. However, the common denominator is that the wealthiest of this group of highly affluent individuals made their money from controlling industries.
This article will identify some of the most important individuals with respect to wealth and power over economic growth.
According to Forbes’ ‘Rich List’ 2012, Carlos Slim ranks as the richest man in the world and has a personal net worth of $69 billion. He owns shares in more than 200 firms including Saks (world renowned retail company), Philip Morris (the world’s largest cigarette producer) and the New York Times. His fortune however, stems from the telecommunications industry which he dominates across South America.
With 220 million users globally, and presence in the UK, Australia, Italy and New Zealand, his impact across the global Telecoms industry is evident, as he also monopolizes the local market by controlling 78% of fixed lines in Mexico, while also holding 67% of the region’s cell phone market. His significance across the telecoms industry has not gone unnoticed – he currently ranks as number 23 in Forbes’ most ‘Powerful People’ list.
Georgia Rinehart is the richest woman in Asia pacific and the 29th richest person in the world as listed in Forbes’s List for 2012. Her personal net worth is $18 billion and she is the 18th most powerful woman in the world (Forbes 2012). Her power stems from her control over the Hancock Prospecting mining company, which she inherited from her father, Lang Hancock, in 1992. Georgina dominates the mining industry across the whole of Australia, and with high iron ore prices and rising exports to China, her fortune is steadily rising.
Georgina uses her resources, influence and social standing to protect her wealth by becoming outspoken regarding issues that may harm the future prosperity of her vast, and lucrative mining business.
Understanding that environmentally friendly developments, such as the Australian government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, may become detrimental to the progression and revenues of Hancock Prospecting, Georgina Rinehart funds the work and trips for scientists who actively argue against manmade climate change. Her wealth and influence allows her to campaign against projects that create a negative impact on her business despite them being beneficial for the economy .This is shown when she protested against the proposed “super profits” mining tax, leading to “Axe the tax “chants in 2010.
She also purchased 10% shares in the Ten Television Network and became the majority shareholder in FairFax newspaper group in an effort to further influence public opinion over matters affecting her. Georgina’s central involvement in campaigning against mining tax hikes drew the attention of the Australian government. Her influential position in Australia, combined with her unrelenting opposition to the mining tax increases compelled the Australian government to lower the level of tax they were initially planning to implement. This is testament to the influence, persuasion and pressure Georgina has the power to exude over important governmental decisions.
Forbes ranks Bernard Arnault as the world’s 4th richest man, Europe’s 1st and the 65th most powerful person. He has a personal net worth of $41billion and controls the world’s largest luxury group LVMH, which has a portfolio for over 600 brands, 60 subsidiaries worldwide, and employs more than 83,000 people. His wealth continues to rise as the demand for luxury goods across Asia and the Middle East keeps growing; giving him further influence over international luxury brand markets.
In March 2011, the majority holding from the Bulgari family was transferred to LVMH in exchange for 16.5 million LVMH shares; positioning the group as an even greater competitor, and market dominator, worldwide. Although Bernard Arnault’s background is engineering and property, his success within the luxury retail market is substantial; in 2011 he received the title ‘2011 world’s fashion person’ by Forbes.
Lakshmi Mittal has a personal net worth of $20.7 billion (2012) and controls ArcelorMittal, which is the world’s largest steelmaker. He is listed as the 21st richest person in the world and 47th most powerful person according to Forbes, 2012. Mittal has operations in 60 countries and in 2010 produced an estimated 73 million tons of steel, making up 8% of world’s output. With 1 out of 5 cars produced with ArcelorMittal’s materials (2010), this signifies his importance in the global steel industry.
Bill Gates, who has a personal net worth of $61 billion (Forbes 2012), is the world’s 2nd richest, and 5th most powerful person. Gates is mostly known for his creation of unique visible software, although only one quarter on his net worth is still held in Microsoft, while approximately 70% of his fortune is held in Cascade Investment company.
Gates has become widely recognized as one of the most charitable people on earth, giving an estimated $28 billion to charitable causes. One of his most significant achievements was helping India to eradicate polio where in January 2012 they announced their first polio- free year. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is the largest private foundation in the world, with an endowment of $37.4 billion and was created to reflect his efforts on improving healthcare and reducing poverty on a global scale.
With the help of Warren Buffett and using his social standing amongst the world’s richest circles, Bill Gates has managed to convince 81 of the wealthiest people in the world to sign “Giving pledge “ – a document stating individuals long term charitable commitment to donate the majority of their fortune to charities.
Bilderberg – the epitome of global economic control
It is clear that the world’s wealthiest individuals, who have significant influence over key industries, ultimately have the power to direct economic growth. Through uniting, and becoming members of exclusive associations such as the Bilderberg Group, the rich effectively use their standing, combined wealth, and resources to implement change.
The Bilderberg group is an exclusive society with around 140 participants; one third of which are top political figures and two thirds are recognized heads of the world’s leading multinational corporations (in 2010 Bill Gates attended the Bilderberg conference in Spain). The invitation –only conferences are held annually, and members discuss issues of economic reform and current concerns. Decisions made during the meetings remain top secret; no information is publicized, and security and police authorities heavily guard the venues where the meetings are held. Bilderberg is one of the most influential groups in the world, as its members have the power, and resources, to control the global economy.
The wealthiest billionaires continue to influence global economic direction
It is evident that billionaires who dominate and control key global industries, essentially have the power to influence surrounding issues that affect the continued success of their investments, and consequently, the greater population. Georgina Rinehart not only controls mining in Australia, but her influence on eco friendly developments is persistent and invasive, while Carlos Slim continues to monopolize south America’s telecommunications industry . Comparatively, Bill Gates uses his social influence and extreme wealth to help those less fortunate to benefit from improved healthcare in struggling countries. Whether they use their wealth to control large industries for their own financial rewards, or they use their social standing for charitable causes, the world’s richest prove that wealth is the foundation that enables power and influence over global economic direction.
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Category: Luxury Living