World’s richest see profits rise 5.7% to $237B in 2016 as populists swept ballots

    In a year when populist voters reshaped power and politics across Europe and the United States, Bloomberg reports the world’s wealthiest people are ending 2016 with $237 billion more than they had at the start.

    Triggered by disappointing economic data from China at the beginning, the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union in the middle and the election of billionaire Donald Trump at the end, the biggest fortunes on the planet whipsawed through $4.8 trillion of daily net worth gains and losses during the year, rising 5.7% to $4.4 trillion by the close of trading Dec. 27, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

    “In general, clients rode through the volatility,” Simon Smiles, chief investment officer for ultra-high-net-worth clients at UBS Wealth Management, tells Bloomberg. “2016 ended up being a spectacular year for risk assets. Pretty remarkable given the start of the year.”

    The gains were led by Warren Buffett, who added $11.8 billion during the year as his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway Inc. saw its airline and banking holdings soar after Trump’s surprise victory on Nov. 8. Buffett, who’s pledged to give away most of his fortune to charity, donated Berkshire Hathaway stock valued at $2.6 billion in July.

    The U.S. investor reclaimed his spot as the world’s second-richest person two days after Trump’s victory ignited a year-end rally that pushed Buffett’s wealth up 19% or the year to $74.1 billion.
    The individual gains for the year were dominated by Americans, who had four of the five biggest increases on the index, including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s richest person with $91.5 billion, and oilman Harold Hamm.

    The country’s richest were largely opposed to a Trump presidency during the election, including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who told the media in May that stocks could fall as much as 20% if Trump were to win the election.

    U.S. billionaires—including Buffett—favored Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton. Still, they profited from his victory when they added $77 billion to their fortunes in the post-election rally fueled by expectations that regulations would ease and American industry would benefit.

    Bloomberg has the full story.

    View Comments