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Billionaires are getting richer while you still can't pay your bills

It’s a good time to be a billionaire, and it's only getting better as the ultra-wealthy become even richer than ever before, a detailed new report reveals.

by Alex Lubben
May 15 2018, 8:59pm

It’s a good time to be a billionaire, and it's only getting better as the ultra-wealthy become even richer than ever before, a detailed new report reveals.

The superrich of the world have seen their fortunes increase drastically, according to a new survey of billionaires released Tuesday. There were 2,754 people worth more than $1 billion in 2017, up 357 people, or nearly 15 percent, from 2016. Not only are there more billionaires now than ever before — their wealth is skyrocketing. According to the report, the billionaires of the world are worth, all together, nearly 25 percent more than they were a year ago.

That’s a record year-over-year increase, both in the number of billionaires and their overall worth, according to the Wealth X billionaire census. In total, the group holds about $9.2 trillion — roughly half of the U.S. gross domestic product. Earlier this month, Forbes came to a similar conclusion that the world’s billionaires were worth about the same amount: $9.1 trillion, according to their calculation.

But even among billionaires, inequality persists. The 10 richest people in the world are worth a combined $682 billion, or about 35 percent of the accumulated wealth. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos takes the top spot on the Forbes list, with a net worth of $112 billion.

For the first time ever, there are more billionaires in Asia than there are in North America, the survey found. And while there are way fewer ultrarich women than men, the number of billionaire women is growing faster than the number billionaire men: There are 321 women worth more than $1 billion, up 18 percent from 2016, whileheir male cohort grew by only 14.5 percent.

Despite some political unpredictability in the U.S. brought on by Donald Trump’s presidency, which the report describes as “characterized by grandiose announcements, often chaotic governance and regular stirring of America’s culture wars,” it also turns out the tax bill was really good for very rich.

“The benefits of the tax bill are skewed heavily towards the ultra wealthy,” the report says.

But the Wealth X isn’t just interested in billionaires’ pocketbooks. The report gets into their hobbies, too: Unsurprisingly, their favorite sport is golf, about a quarter of them are interested in aviation, and only three percent like country music.

Cover image: Demonstrators against the Republican tax reform bill hold a 'Peoples Filibuster to Stop Tax Cuts for Billionaires,' protest rally outside the US Capitol on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 30, 2017. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images.