Billionaires’ List Shrinks 30%

Forbes’ list of billionaires has taken on an unusually macabre tinge this year. From German pharma king Adolf Merckle, who committed suicide in January after running up huge debts gambling on risky short positions, to India’s Anil Ambani, who lost $31.9 billion, or 79 percent of his fortune, as shares of his companies collapsed, the annual article makes for an addictive read. Overall, 793 made the list, a 30 percent decline; of 752 who retained their status, 87 percent saw their personal wealth tumble. Most shocking: Their collective net worth is now $2.4 trillion, down a whopping $2 trillion. David Geffen, whose net worth has fallen 25 percent to $4.5 billion, sums it up: “I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Dow fell below 6000…I think [unemployment] will reach 15 percent or 16 percent by the end of the year.”