NEW YORK (
) -- The
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.
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
rich list -- Bill Gates, founder of
, with a personal fortune of $56 billion, and Warren Buffett, CEO of
with a personal fortune of $50 billion -- have led a big inspirational campaign among billionaires. The pair are at the forefront of the
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
rich list to national government budgets, but
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
. 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
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.
In light of the
rich list and U.S. deficit figures, here are some deficit fighting facts to consider for interested billionaires:
The combined net worth of all U.S. billionaires -- accumulated over a lifetime -- is $1.5 trillion; less than the United States' projected deficit for this year alone.
If all the world's billionaires donated their entire $4.5 trillion net worth to the United States Treasury, they would only reduce our national debt by 31%.
This is not to say that the globe's billionaires couldn't prop up the U.S. economy a bit. The tax and budget team at federal government budget watchdog
ran some numbers for
and came up with some interesting budget comparisons to see where $4.5 trillion could help out the U.S. government during the budget crunch:
For example, if the billionaires found it in their hearts to do so, they could fund the entire federal government's discretionary non-security budget for the next four fiscal years. This includes agencies such as the Departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, employing several million federal workers. The numbers are $396.8 billion for fiscal 2012, $396.7 billion for fiscal 2013, $396.6 billion for fiscal 2014, and $396.7 billion for fiscal 2015, adding up to $1.587 trillion.
Donating their combined net worth, the U.S. billionaires on the list could easily fund Medicaid for the next four fiscal years as the program's budget needs for fiscal 2012-2015 total $1.306 trillion.
Similarly, Buffett & Co. could easily replace the federal government's unemployment insurance (UI) revenue stream for the next 20 years. The expected UI revenue stream fiscal years 2012-2021 is $690 billion, and roughly doubling that results in a 20-year cost of $1.38 trillion.
These billionaires could also almost fully pay for two more Recovery Acts. The original Recovery Act cost of $821 billion, so doubling that brings the tab to just $1.642 trillion.
While Buffett, the unofficial CEO of the granddaddy of all market economies, the Good Ole US of A, might be up to the task, this latest version of the
list increasingly reflects the rise of the BRIC
Brazil, Russia, India and China nations so there's likely to be scant U.S. deficit-fighting interest from the world's new billionaires.
Among the BRIC highlights from this year's
The BRIC quartet accounted for 108 of the 214 new billionaires making the annual list
China now has 115 billionaires and Russia 101 billionaires. Previous to this year, the United States was the only country that had ever boasted more than 100 billionaires.
Roughly 47% of China's billionaires and 30% of Russia's billionaires were new additions to the list this year.
Indeed, even as the U.S. deficit keeps growing, the country's billionaire ranks are seeing a slowdown in growth. Moscow replaced the U.S. as the No. 1 location for billionaires this year, and the pace of U.S. billionaire additions was a paltry 6%.
A statistical analysis of the correlation between the decline in the U.S. billionaire annual addition rate and the rate of increase in the U.S. deficit has not yet been completed, but it's probably at least good for one economics department PhD.
--Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.
>>12 Most Big-Hearted Billionaires
>To contact the writer of this article, click here:
>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to
>To submit a news tip, send an email to: