2017 Was Very Good to the Very Wealthy

President Donald Trump, left, and Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, center, listen as Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, speaks during an American Technology Council roundtable in the State Dinning Room of the White House, Monday, June 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump, left, and Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, center, listen as Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon, speaks during an American Technology Council roundtable in the State Dinning Room of the White House, Monday, June 19, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As usual, the rich get richer. In fact, the richest people on earth became a whopping $1 trillion richer in 2017, which is more than four times last year’s gain as stock markets reached record highs. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people, there was a 23 percent increase, comparative of an almost 20 percent increase for both the MSCI World Index and Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index.

In October, Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos knocked off longtime reigning champ, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, to become the world’s richest person. Bezos added the most to his net worth in 2017, raking in a $34.2 billion gain to nab the top spot. Gates, 62, was the richest person in the world since May 2013 but has since been donating much of his fortune to charity, including a $4.6 billion pledge he made to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in August. Bezos’ net worth topped $100 billion at the end of November but currently stands at $99.6 billion compared to Gates’ net worth of $91.3 billion. Like Gates, George Soros, the founder of Quantum Fund, once one of the world’s largest hedge funds, gave away a substantial part of his fortune. In October, Soros revealed that his family had once given $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations over the past several years.

The billion investors subsequently dropped to No. 195 on the Bloomberg ranking, with a net worth of $8 billion. The 500 billionaires controlled $5.3 trillion by the end of trading Tuesday, Dec. 26, up from $4.4 trillion on Dec. 27, 2016. “It’s part of the second-most robust and second-longest bull market in history,” said Mike Ryan, chief investment officer for the Americas at UBS Wealth Management, on Dec. 18. “Of all the guidance we gave people over the course of this year, the most important advice was staying invested.”

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