Seems the world economy is growing and changing so fast that staying on top for very long will become harder. Carlos Slim of Mexico did not retain the title very long, as CNBC is reporting Meet the World's New 'Richest Person' -- For Now, a story about Mukesh Ambani. It has been reported that he is just completing a ONE BILLION DOLLAR HOME! Here's how the Indian press reports rank the world's top five richest people as of today, based on known public stock holdings:
- Mukesh Ambani - $63.2 billion
- Carlos Slim Helu - $62.2993 billion
- William (Bill) Gates - $62.29 billion
- Warren Buffett - $55.9 billion
- Lakshmi Mittal - $50.9 billion
What's more important is who is taking what actions. What are these supernova rich guys doing with their wealth? In the case of Gates and Buffett, they have become the world's biggest philanthropists. Carlos Slim has expressed a desire to share his wealth as well by setting up a $10 billion foundation -- I'm not sure how far he has gone with that idea. Mittal is still busy buying up all the steel production on the planet, and is now the largest player in the market. That will increase his wealth for now. On the other hand, the Hunt Brothers of Texas thought that way in the 1970s about silver, and found out rather quickly that was not their brightest idea. Steel is likely a much better bet.
Portfolio.com portrays Ambani, 50, chairman of Reliance Industries, as India's premiere capitalist, directing sprawling business operations that include petrochemicals, oil refining, textiles, retail and biotechnology. Ambani's father built Reliance up from a handful of textile mills (sound familiar Buffett followers?) into an industrial conglomerate that represents about 3% of India's $4.1 trillion economy, with annual revenue of more than $27 billion, almost as much as the better-known Tata Group.
Unlike some of the other super-billionaires, Ambani must believe charity begins at home, because he has spared no expense in his. He has chosen to live the most extravagant of lifestyles, and does not seem to mind being celebrated for it. While the family -- including Ambani's wife, Nita, who looks after Reliance's Foundation's corporate-responsibility program -- has supported many charitable organizations, Ambani must be saving his best for last, because to date all of his contributions would be through expanding economic development.
If you are a shareholder you might do well, but if you are not, you might have to wait a few more generations to be lifted out of poverty by Ambani's efforts. But, things change fast as discussed earlier, and I would like to think that upon the completion of his new living quarters, he starts to build the largest of philanthropic organizations to channel his vast and growing resources.
Nita deflects attention from her family's work in India by moving to a more global discussion, saying "I think we are making steps, but today it's important that we talk about humanity at large. I don't think it's 'India this and that,'" Nita says when asked whether India is moving in the right direction in terms of evening the disparity between rich and poor. "Look at Africa. There are huge belts of people who live on less than $1 a day. We have to address this issue, without getting into 'country.' Every one of us is responsible for all of humanity."
Well certainly we all have some responsibility, but with $63 billion in assets, I would think some should be more responsible than others.
Sheldon Liber is the CEO of a small private investment company and the principal for design and research at an architecture & planning firm.