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Forced to fly coach?

The meltdown of global financial markets slashed the ranks of the world's billionaires by 30 percent in 2008, Forbes magazine reports in its annual tally. • "The world has become a wealth wasteland," Forbes declares in the billionaire report on its Web site. "Like the rest of us, the richest people in the world have endured a financial disaster over the past year." • The number of billionaires fell to 793 from 1,125 a year ago, Forbes said. Their collective net worth: $2.4 trillion, a drop of $2 trillion.

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Planet's richest

No. 1: Bill Gates, $40 billion (though his wealth dropped from $58 billion last year).

No. 2 : Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s Warren Buffett, who was No. 1 on last year's list, $37 billion.

No. 3. Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim, $35 billion.

No. 4: Lawrence Ellison, U.S. software giant Oracle Corp., $22.5 billion.

No. 5: Ingvar Kamprad, Swedish retailer IKEA, $22 billion.

No. 6: Karl Albrecht, German supermarket giant Aldi, $21.5 billion.

Regulars reeling

American households' net worth fell 9 percent in 2008's fourth quarter, the largest drop in more than a half-century of record keeping. Family net worth — total assets such as homes and checking accounts minus liabilities like mortgages and credit card debt — now stands at $51.48 trillion.

Forced to fly coach? 03/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 13, 2009 12:05am]

    

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