Amazon founders wealth surges by$ 6bn thanks to stock exchange surge but he is still not the richest person ever

Just 10 days into 2018 and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and a thorn in the two sides of Donald Trump, has read his personal wealth soar by$ 6bn( PS4. 4bn ).

The man at the helm of the sprawling online empire- which accounted for an extraordinary 89% of online Christmas trading at big US retailers– Bezos is now worth $106 bn, enough to cover Britain’s budget deficit twice over and still have change.

Officially, he is the richest boy on the planet- the latest in a listing of plutocrats stretching all the way back to Croesus, the ruler of Lydia in the 6th century BC who was so rich he had an expression epithet after him. Simply once before has one boy been worth twelve figures, when Bill Gates’s fortune make its peak of $100 bn at the high levels of the dotcom bubble in 1999. Bezos overtook Gates last year and the gap has widened almost daily.

Even so, the impact of inflation signifies Bezos is not the richest human who ever lived. He is not even the richest American who ever lived: that name would go to one of the titans of US industry from the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller and Henry Ford all amassed fates that would make the Amazon founder a relative pauper once rising prices were taken into account.

Looking further back, lists of the top 10 richest humankinds of all time include William the Conqueror’s relative Alan Rufus. According to the US magazine Money, when he died around 1093, Alan’s estate was worth PS1 1,000. The Domesday Book had helpfully thrown a value on all property in England after the Norman conquest and Rufus comprised 7% of it. Bezos’s wealth, by contrast, does not amount to even 1% of current US GDP; to match Rufus his wealth to be required $1.25 tn.

Even less is known about other historical figures who controlled vast fortunes. From the Egyptian pharaohs to the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar and the Mongol warlord Genghis Khan, wealth down the ages has often been concentrated in the hands of the few.

Nor is Bezos without question the richest boy currently living. While it is relatively easy to work out the net worth of Bezos and Gates from the value of their share portfolios , nobody knows for sure how much members of such Saudi Arabian royal family are worth. Nor has anybody “re coming” with a definitive figure for the net worth of Vladimir Putin, although rumour has it that the Russian president’s fate is bigger than that of Bezos or Gates. Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, is said to have salted away $200 bn during his time in power.

Bezos’s wealth is disclosed on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which looks at publicly available data on company owned and stock market stakes, building it easy to quantify. The list is dominated by Americans, given their ownership of the world’s biggest public corporations. But others, from Russian oligarchs to leaders of developing nations, control vast undisclosed sums. Some may also be hidden due to opaque company structures, with monies or assets placed offshore.

The increase in Bezos’s wealth is a result of a surge in the value of Amazon shares- fuelled by a stock exchange rally that owes much to Trump’s corporate taxation cuts, which came into force in the early stages of the year. Bezos owns 16% of Amazon, which has risen in value by more than 50% since the president’s inauguration a year ago- an ironic situation given that Bezos likewise owns the Washington Post, a newspaper that has been a source of almost constant irritation for the US president, which he refers to as a factory of fake news.

Nevertheless Bezos- born into a middle-class household in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964 and who launched Amazon in 1994 selling books from his garage in Seattle- is now number 1 on the rich list ahead of Gates and the investor Warren Buffett.

After taking inflation into account, the $100 bn fate belonging to Bill Gates would have been worth nearly $150 bn in today’s money.

The Microsoft founder might also have been merit more than Bezos today if he hadn’t given away almost $36 bn through the charitable foundation he runs with his wife, Melinda.

Measured against the total wealth in the US at the time the dotcom bubble explosion Gates was much richer than Bezos. According to Credit Suisse, total wealth in the world’s largest economy has more than doubled to $93.5 tn since the year 2000.

Billionaires ought to have get richer in recent years, at a time of growing concerns over inequality in grown nations. The world’s super-rich have been estimated to now own the greatest concentration of wealth since the US Gilded Age at the turn of the 20 th century, when industrialists such as Rockefeller and Carnegie developed rich beyond imagination. That interval came to an end with the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression.

The world’s 500 richest people increased their wealth by$ 1tn last year, buoyed by huge increases in the value of world shares.

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