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Capitalism is taking some lumps—and not just in the headlines. For only the second year in a decade, both the number of billionaires and their total wealth shrank, proving that even the wealthiest are not immune to economic forces and weak stock markets. By our latest count there are 2,153 billionaires, 55 fewer than a year ago. Of those, a record 994, or 46%, are poorer (relatively speaking) than they were last year. In total, the ultra-rich are worth $8.7 trillion, down $400 billion from 2018. Altogether 11% of last year’s list members, or 247 people, dropped out of the ranks, the most since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

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The Forbes World’s Billionaires list is a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from February 8, 2019. Some people become richer or poorer within days of publication. The fortune of Tsuyoshi Matsushita of Japan ($1.3 billion on our list) fell by nearly $600 million by February 18, as shares of his fitness and beauty-products firm, MTG, tumbled. Just over a week later, Singapore’s Forrest Li jumped into the 10-figure club when the stock of his online gaming firm Sea increased 45% in days. We list individuals rather than multigenerational families who share fortunes, though we include wealth belonging to a billionaire’s spouse and children if that person is the founder of the fortune. In some cases we list siblings or couples together if the ownership breakdown among them isn’t clear, but here an estimated net worth of $1 billion per person is needed to make the cut. We value a variety of assets, including private companies, real estate, art and more. We don’t pretend to know each billionaire’s private balance sheet (though some provide it). When documentation isn’t supplied or available, we discount fortunes.

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Acknowledgements
\n\n

Special thanks to App Annie, Euromonitor International, FactSet Research Systems, Horwath HTL, IHS Markit, LW Hospitality Advisors, McCabe Research & Consulting, Orbis by Bureau Van Dijk, Pitchbook Data, PropertyShark, Reonomy, S&P Capital IQ, VesselsValue, and the other experts who helped us with our reporting and valuations, including Karl Danielsson, Karl Danielsson Egendomar; Truman Fleming, Vegas Paradise Homes; Daniel Lesser, LW Hospitality Advisors; LZ Retailytics; Kieran Maguire, University of Liverpool; Ali Mogharabi, Morningstar Inc.; Mario Ortelli, Ortelli & Co.; Simeon Siegel, Instinet; Leena Viljamaa, OP Financial Group.\n

\n \n

Credits
\n\nEditors: Kerry A. Dolan and Luisa Kroll\n\nAdditional Editing: John Koppisch, Chase Peterson-Withorn, Nathan Vardi, Jennifer Wang \n\nCountry Editors: Graham Button, Grace Chung, Russell Flannery, Naazneen Karmali\nWealth Team: Angel Au-Yeung, Guia Baggi, Elena Berezanskaya, Madeline Berg, Deniz Çam, Kathleen Chaykowski, Maggie Chen, Lauren Debter, Alex Fang, Max Jedeur-Palmgren, Noah Kirsch, Elaine Mao, Zina Moukheiber, Andrea Murphy, Linh Nguyen, Ariel Shapiro, Will Yakowicz, and reporters at Forbes-licensed editions in Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, and Turkey.\n\nResearch: Sue Radlauer\n\nDesign Director: Dan Revitte\n\nCreative Director: Bob Mansfield\n\nPhotography Director: Robyn Selman\n\nPhoto Editors: Merrilee Barton, Gail Toivanen, Kristine Gentile Smith \n\nGraphics: Andres Jauregui, Nicholas DeSantis, Joy Hwang\n\n\n\nProduct: Ebony Shears, Grant Tunkel\n\nEngineering: Dmitri Slavinsky, Ken Barney, Chuck Rea, Christoper DeLeon\n\nReporters: Susan Adams, Yuri Aksyonov, Dan Alexander, Prisca Ang, Anderson Antunes, Megha Bahree, Kim Bode, Igor Bosilkovski, Thomas Brewster, Biz Carson, Nilgun Cavdar, Alexandra Charalambous, Caroline Chen, Shu-Ching Jean Chen, Muhammad Cohen, Carter Coudriet, Hayley Cuccinello, Michael del Castillo, James Dunn, Amy Feldman, Antoine Gara, Ricardo Geromel, Gloria Haraito, Christopher Helman, Alvaro Hernandez Zorrilla, Joyce Huang, Jane Ho, Jeff Kauflin, Robert Kidd, Sean Kilachand, Christian Kreznar, Nicole Lindsay, Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin, Suzanne Nam, Lan Anh Nguyen, Robert Olsen, Parmy Olson, Anuradha Raghunathan, Natalie Robehmed, Sheela Sarvananda, Lucinda Schmidt, Leonard Schoenberger, Samantha Sharf, James Simms, Chloe Sorvino, Deborah Steinborn, Kristin Stoller, Jessica Tan, Michela Tindera, Ozer Turan, Yue Wang, Jennifer Wells \n

Top grid photos: Kylie Jenner by Jamel Toppin; Jeff Bezos by Jamel Toppin; David Steward by Jeff Roberson/AP; Donald Trump by Jamel Toppin; Laureen Powell Jobs by Brigitte Lacombe; China by Getty Images; Statue of Liberty by Ashley Sandberg/Getty Images

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TOP BILLIONAIRE STORIES OF 2019

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THE RICHEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD

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Asia-Pacific was hardest hit, with 60 fewer 10-figure fortunes. That dip was led by China, which has 49 fewer billionaires than a year ago. Europe, the Middle East and Africa also lost ground. The Americas, driven by a resurgent Brazil, and the U.S. are the only two regions that have more billionaires than they did a year ago. There are now a record 607 in the U.S. That includes 14 of the world’s 20 richest. Jeff Bezos is again number 1 in the world, followed by Bill Gates at number 2.

 

Even with strong headwinds, resourceful and relentless entrepreneurs found new ways to get rich: 195 newcomers joined the ranks. The richest newcomer is Colin Huang, the founder of Chinese discount web retailer Pinduoduo, which went public in the U.S. in July. Other notable new entrants include Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon; Juul Labs' James Monsees and Adam Bowen, Kind Bar’s Daniel Lubetzky and cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner, who is the world’s youngest billionaire at age 21.

Edited By Luisa Kroll and Kerry A. Dolan

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