The richest people on Earth lost $511 billion this year after record first-half gains were obliterated by a succession of bruising market selloffs.
Global trade tensions and worries about a U.S. recession dragged markets lower at year-end, leaving the 500 people on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a combined net worth of $4.7 trillion as of Friday’s close. It’s only the second annual decline for the daily wealth index since its 2012 debut, and represents a sharp about-turn from the start of the year, when bullish investors helped propel the fortunes of the richest to a record $5.6 trillion.
“As of late, investor anxiety has run high,” said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer at Northern Trust Wealth Management. “We do not expect a recession, but we are mindful of the downside risks to global growth.”
Even Jeff Bezos, who recorded the biggest gain for 2018, wasn’t spared the volatility. His fortune peaked at $168 billion in September, a $69 billion gain. It later tumbled $53 billion – more than the market value of Delta Air Lines Inc. or Ford Motor Co. – to leave him with $115 billion at year-end.
The Amazon.com Inc. founder had a better year than Mark Zuckerberg, who recorded the biggest loss since January, dropping $23 billion as Facebook Inc. careened from crisis to crisis. Overall, the 173 U.S. billionaires on the list – the largest cohort – lost 5.9 percent from their fortunes to leave them with $1.9 trillion…