Asia-Pacific region cranks out billionaires at blistering pace
The world's newest billionaires are representative of wealth creation in the fastest growing regions of the global economy. Image: CC jpvargas/Flickr

As the world’s rich get richer and the poor get poorer, most of the globe’s freshly minted millionaires are from developing countries, according to Forbes. The U.S. still leads the world in billionaires but isn’t producing them like it used to. China is producing billionaires at the highest rate and the world’s richest man is Mexican Carlos Slim Helu, who sits far and above everyone else on the Forbes billionaire list.

BRICs lead the world in new billionaires

More billionaires emerged in developing countries last year than in the U.S. or Europe. The number of the world’s billionaires rose to 1,210. The total net worth of the individuals on the Forbes billionaire list is $4.5 trillion. Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as the BRIC countries, are driving billionaire numbers upward. The BRICs produced half the world’s 214 new billionaires. One in four of the world’s billionaires now comes from the BRICs. The Asia-Pacific region added 105 new names to the magazine’s list. The number of billionaires in China nearly doubled to 115. Russian billionaire ranks increased two-thirds to 101. India added just six to reach 55, and billionaire Brazilians increased two-thirds to 30. Billionaires in the U.S., which has customarily led the world in newcomers, rose just 10 individuals to 413.

How to make a billionaire

Prior to 2010, the U.S. had been the only country to ever have more than 100 billionaires. The growth in the world’s billionaires is representative of growth in the global economy. A global commodities boom is fueling wealth creation in the Asia-Pacific, and the region has 332 billionaires, an all-time high. Copper and gold prices are at record highs, grains are near 2008 food crisis peaks and oil has spiked above $100 a barrel. Booming Asia-Pacific stock markets enriched 75 percent of Asia’s 105 new billionaires who raised their fortunes buying shares in publicly traded companies. Rising steel and oil prices have made Moscow, not New York, the new billionaire capital of the world with 79.

The top of the billionaire list

The world’s richest man is still Carlos Slim Helu, who made $20.5 billion in 2010 to increase his wealth to $74 billion. According to Forbes, Bill Gates would be the world’s richest man if he wasn’t so generous. Gates has given $28 billion to charity through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. He’s still No. 2, however, with a fortune of $56 billion, up from $53 billion in 2009. No. 3 on the list, Warren Buffet, has joined his friend Gates in pledging billions to charity but increased his net worth from $47 billion to $50 billion. The most prominent newcomer on the Forbes list is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose fortune skyrocketed 238 percent in just one year to reach $13.5 billion. So far, Facebook has made six people billionaires.



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