NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Forbes' list of the super rich showed another big increase in the ranks of global billionaires this year, but to put their considerable wealth into perspective, it wouldn't make a dent in the ballooning U.S. deficit.
Forbes says it's important to track the world' richest people since they are the leaders who inspire change, evincing a little defensiveness about the glorification of greed inherent in such a ranking.
It's true that No. 2 and No. 3 on the Forbes rich list -- Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report), with a personal fortune of $56 billion, and Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) with a personal fortune of $50 billion -- have led a big inspirational campaign among billionaires. The pair are at the forefront of the GivingPledge drive, a movement to convince the super rich to donate at least half of their personal fortunes to charity.
It may seem a stretch, too, to compare the Forbes rich list to national government budgets, but Forbes itself was making comparisons this year between the amount of wealth represented on the list and the economy of entire nations.There are now 1,210 billionaires across the globe with a combined wealth of $4.5 trillion, which surpasses the GDP of Germany, according to Forbes. Yet when it's the rich list versus the U.S. deficit, German GDP is a blip. Coincidentally, a day after the release of the Forbes rich list, the U.S. government announced that the federal deficit grew by $222.5 billion in February, the largest single monthly increase in history. Economists now predict that this year's cumulative deficit will top the $1 trillion mark for a third straight year. The Obama administration has forecast a $1.56 trillion deficit for this budget year, which would top the previous record of $1.4 trillion deficit set in 2009. The national deficit now stands above $14 trillion, and it's growing by the billions each day.