Ok, guess which city in the world has the most billionaires.
If you guessed New York, you’re really close. New York has the second highest number of billionaires, at 31.
I’ll give you a few hints:
- New York isn’t even on the right continent.
- One of the billionaires from this city recently purchased London’s Chelsea Football club …
- He’s only 37, but he’s the second richest man in this city.
- The city’s not in England, though. Or even in Europe.
- The richest man in this city is in jail.
Well, this is only possible because almost every rich person in this country lives in the same city. By contrast with the United States, where the combined net worth of all American billionaires is equivalent to just six percent of the gross domestic product of USA ... the richest 100 people in this country are worth over 25% of it’s entire economy.
By now you’ve probably guessed. According to Forbes, Moscow is the city with the most billionaires in the world. It’s hard to believe, and it’s actually a sad commentary on the current state of affairs in that country.
As the BBC article mentions, almost every one of these rich Russians owes their wealth to the purchase of formerly state-owned companies after the fall of the Soviet Union. Two-thirds of them owe their fortunes to “exploitation” of their countries natural resources. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not really and eco freak, but the natural resources of a country belong to it’s citizens. And if they’re going to be used to make billions of dollars, I’d like to see that money spread out a little better. It’s even more hurtful when you think of the fact that these companies are one “owned by the people” not so long ago. What do the people have to show for it?
The rich are still getting richer, of course. The Gateway to Russia story mentions that Forbe’s list from late February only had 25 Russians on it … the list published today has about 36 billionaires and 64 businessmen with over $200 million dollars, and thanks to Russia’s booming stock market, the number of billionaires in Russia increased 40 percent in just 2.5 months, and their total wealth rose from $79.4bn to $110bn.
The Gateway to Russia also has other bad news about the Russian economy. Seven percent of it’s citizens are living on 25 rubles or less, the equivalent of a dollar a day. This is a level of poverty unheard of in the United States … If you look at the Russian deffinition of poverty (which is still based on Soviet era calculations about a “basket of consumer goods” which includes buying a new coat every five years [:-|]), they calculate 22% of the population, or thirty million people.
I’ll leave it to you to read the article, it’s rather discouraging, and somewhat depressing. The author essentially concludes that the Russian people have been living in poverty for so long (and are likely to continue doing so, regardless of any possible effort, for so much longer), that they have become accustomed to poverty and may be, in a sense, so hopeless that they can’t see beyond that.
Of course, there are many other countries in the third world where this is the case, but it’s hard to really think of once-proud Russia in that way. Especially when they have the Richest City in the World.
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