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Wealth

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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Wealth

Postby TalkingPoint » Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:00 am

Who are the richest people in the world?
It can be very difficult to establish exactly who the richest people in the world are because every "top ten richest people" list is slightly different. This is partly because many extremely prosperous people keep the details of their finances to themselves and partly because it depends exactly how their wealth is calculated in real terms. Nevertheless, the names which are common to various "top ten" lists are these: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, and several members of the Walton family in America.

How did these people get to be so rich?
These "top ten" contenders have become billionaires in a variety of ways. Bill Gates, a Harvard University drop-out, is a self-made man who set up the Microsoft company and revolutionized computer software. The company’s co-founder, Paul Allen, also ranks highly in "rich lists" despite leaving the company in the mid-1980s. Warren Buffet is another self-made man who vies with Gates in the "rich lists" at least – in real life they get on well, apparently. Buffet made his money through the holding company Berkshire Hathaway and a series of wise investments. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, has made his billions through investments, not oil, as one might have presumed. The next name which crops up on many a "rich list" is that of Albrecht. The Albrecht brothers, Karl and Theo, made their money through the Aldi chain of supermarkets, which originated in Germany. No ‘rich list’ would be complete without the Walton family. Sam Walton set up shop in 1962 in Arkansas in America. If he were alive today (he died in 1992) it is estimated that he would be worth twice what Bill Gates is worth today. His children inherited his wealth and are all fabulously rich though not all of them play an active part in the running of the family business: Wal-Mart. As demonstrated by the Albrecht brothers and the Walton family, the retail business in general seems to be a good way to make money. Another billionaire in retail is Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA). The beauty industry is highly profitable too, as demonstrated by Liliane Bettencourt (L’Oreal). The richest man in Britain is the Duke of Westminster, who inherited his wealth – his family owns large swathes of Mayfair and Belgravia in the West End of London.

Has the credit crunch affected the super-rich?
The short answer is "yes". Apparently even the mega-rich are not immune to fluctuations in the world of finance. Where there were over 1,100 billionaires in the world a year ago there are now fewer than 800. However, billionaires can ease the situation by living in countries where they pay less tax. For this reason Britain has more than its fair share of billionaires. Although only 35 of the world’s billionaires are British several non-British billionaires choose to live in the UK due to the lenient tax policy towards non-domiciled residents. For this reason Britain hosts Stelios Haji-Ioannou (Easy-Jet) and Roman Abramovich (Oil magnate), despite the fact that they are Greek and Russian, respectively.

Discuss: Should global wealth be re-distributed evenly?

Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.

1. It can be very difficult to __________ exactly who the richest people in the world are because every "top ten richest people" list is slightly different.

2. Warren Buffet is __________ self-made man who vies with Gates in the "rich lists" at least.

3. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, has made his billions through investments, not __________, as one might have presumed.

4. The beauty industry is highly profitable too, as __________ by Liliane Bettencourt (L’Oreal).

5. The richest man in Britain is the __________ of Westminster, who inherited his wealth – his family owns large swathes of Mayfair and Belgravia in the West End of London.

6. Although only 35 of the world’s billionaires are British several non-British billionaires choose to live in the UK due to the __________ tax policy towards non-domiciled residents.
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