Forbes Billionaires List Growing

Forbes Billionaires List Growing

James Henry: US still leads as many new billionaires emerging in China and Russia; corporate profits at record levels - as austerity hits and unemployment remains high -   October 3, 14
Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

I support the Real News Network because it gives members an opportunity to make uncensored comments. - David Pear
Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


James S. Henry is a leading economist, attorney and investigative journalist who has written extensively about global issues. James served as Chief Economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. As an investigative journalist his work has appeared in numerous publications like Forbes, The Nation and The New York Times. He was the lead researcher of the recently released report titled 'The Price of Offshore Revisited.'


Forbes Billionaires List GrowingJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

As we all know, the world's largest economies are in a recession. But what you might not know is that Forbes just released their "Rich List", and there are 210 new members in their billionaire club.

Here to discuss all this is James Henry. James Henry is a leading economist, attorney, and investigative journalist who has written extensively about global issues. James served as chief economist at the international consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. And as an investigative journalist his work has appeared in numerous publications, like Forbes, The Nation, and The New York Times.

Thank you for joining us, James.


DESVARIEUX: So, James, it looks like for the first time in 13 years Warren Buffett hasn't made Forbes's top three. Who are these 210 new members in the billionaire club, and what does this say about wealth inequality around the world?

HENRY: Yeah. We have about 1,426 billionaires in the world, according to Forbes. I think that's an undercount. You know, a recent study in China showed that there were at least 100 billionaires. That's the number that Forbes shows. But the person who did the work back in July was saying that he thought he may have missed another 100.

So, many of the new billionaires are in some of these emerging markets, oddly enough, the former Soviet Union, for example. The Ukraine has ten. Russia itself has about 165. You know. So if you--looking around for new wealth that was created by--in a relatively short period of time, a lot of it had to do with the games that are being played in places like Russia and China with the distribution of state assets.

And if you look, for example, at the folks from China on the list, out of the 100 billionaires that they report from mainland China, 23 made their fortunes in real estate, and their median age is just 50. So this means they made a lot of money in a short period of time, basically, in places like Hong Kong and Shanghai and Beijing, where real estate prices are among the highest in the world, and where the state banks had been lending to people who have the connections to develop these highrises we all see in pictures there.

So in the United States we've had--you know, if you look at the people on the U.S. list, there's the usual suspects. Bill Gates is still number two.

But he's dropped below Carlos Slim, who's one of the most important businesspeople in Mexico. He owns the Telmex, which is still a telephone monopoly in Mexico. And Warren has slipped down the list quite a bit. The Walton family, which inherited all their money, accounts for another three of the top ten people on the list.

So the interesting thing for the rest of us, who are experiencing things like, you know, sequestration and still very low growth rate for the overall economy--unemployment, if anything, is likely to rise here because of layoffs in the government sector--you know, we're wondering why the stock market is rising--these folks own a lot of the stock market--and, you know, how this extraordinary wealth at the top of the system squares with the experience that most folks are having in the United States, as well as in Europe, of very poor economic performance for ordinary people.

DESVARIEUX: So, as you mentioned, the stock market is doing exceptionally well and corporate profits are at an all-time high, the Dow Jones hitting a milestone, according to The New York Times just a couple of days ago. Do you feel like more Americans are becoming aware of this wealth inequality?

HENRY: Well, the stock market is certainly an indicator that most Americans are not profiting from. Most stocks and bonds are owned by, you know, the top 1 percent.

But the stock market's rise is interesting. In real terms, it's not quite matched the level that it reached in 2007, but, you know, it's approaching that. And I think we have to look at a mystery here, which is: we know that the regular economy is growing at a pretty modest rate, and, you know, so--and real median incomes are flat or declining still. We still have relatively high unemployment in the labor market.

And so what's going on? Basically, in the fourth quarter of 2012, we saw corporate profits reach an all-time high as a share of GDP, about nearly 11 percent. And at the same time, the wages share in GDP has national income has declined.

So what you're really seeing here is that I think, you know, some of the largest companies on the planet are basically making money hand over fist, their owners are doing relatively well, and the rest of us are kind of left in the dust. You know.

I mean, I think if this continues we'll see some wealth effects on the rest of the economy. We'll see the housing market begin to pick up. It already has in many areas. And that would cause more wealth to be distributed more broadly.

But for the time being, we really have a two-tier story here in the economy [incompr.] very wealthy and people like the Forbes list that are profiting from this situation already and doing quite well. The aggregate wealth for that group increased by $800 billion in just one year from $4.6 trillion to $5.4 trillion this year. And so, you know, that's pretty hard to square with the experience the rest of us are having.

DESVARIEUX: Okay. Thank you so much for joining us, James.

HENRY: Okay. Quite welcome.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


Latest Stories

A Syria Without Assad?
Defeat and Demoralization in Greece
Countdown to Paris: Are the Pledges to Cut Emissions Enough to Save the Planet?
Russians Could Force New Negotiations Over Syria
At the Center of a Storm - Irvin Jim on RAI (2/3)
MSF Hospital Targeted by Afghan Government Forces in July
Should Canadians Vote Strategically to Defeat Harper?
With Homicides at Record Pace, City Plans Three Day Trial for Freddie Gray Protester
At the Center of a Storm - Irvin Jim, General Secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on RAI (1/3)
MSF Demands War Crime Probe in Afghanistan
Privatization, Charters & High-Stakes Tests: Arne Duncan's Legacy
Another Suspicious Death Raises More Concerns About Black Life Behind Bars
US Ruling Circles Split On Use of Jihadists in Syria
Saudi Arabia Silences UN Human Rights Council Over Its War Crimes in Yemen (2/2)
The Politics of Politics: Grace Lee Boggs Remembered
Greg Grandin: Empire and Resistance
Pillaging the Public Treasury - David Cay Johnston on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
Dependency on Warlords Led to U.S. Attack on MSF Afghan Hospital
Saudi Arabia Silences UN Human Rights Council Over Its War Crimes in Yemen (1/2)
Baltimore Police Commissioner Stunned by Poverty in Baltimore
The House Freedom Caucus: Tea Party 2.0 Behind Boehner's Resignation
The Revolutionary Age
What Washington Isn't Saying About the TPP 'Victory'
Do the Taliban represent the Pashtuns?
The Deep State and the Power of Billionaires - David Cay Johnston on Reality Asserts Itself (3/4)
GMO Anti-Labeling Law Heads to Senate After House Approval
Inter-Imperial Feuds and the Lost Revolution in Syria (2/2)
LAPD Infiltrators and Agents Provocateurs Targeted Leftists and Panthers - David Cay Johnston on Reality Asserts Itself (2/4)
The Syrian Civil War and Big Power Rivalry
Reports Expose Zionists Stifling Dissent on US Campuses, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network. Click here for more

Problems with this site? Please let us know

Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting