Time to check in with the latest scorecard of the elite rich in 2014, and even with tumbling oil prices the world gained several new billionaires last year and the 400 richest people on earth made serious bank.
The world's 400 richest people added some $92 billion to their collective wealth in 2014, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. As of Dec. 29, they were all worth a combined $4.1 trillion.
According to Bloomberg, 2014's biggest earner was Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company, who added $25.1 billion to his fortune after Alibaba's initial public offering in September. Microsoft's Bill Gates remains the world's richest man, adding some $9 billion to his net worth, which is valued at $87.6 billion.
In a year of geopolitical instability, not all the mega-rich were so lucky. A clutch of influential Russian billionaires suffered as a result of sliding oil prices and Western sanctions on Moscow. Alisher Usmanov, who entered 2014 as Russia’s richest man, lost a third of his wealth.
In any event, these eye-popping figures should not be a surprise. Global inequality is deepening, with millions of poorer people around the world affected by rising rates of joblessness and decreasing incomes.
Just how bad is global inequality in 2015? It's pretty amazing.
Some 85% of the world's entire wealth, is held by less than 9% of earth's population. If you account for just the 35 million millionaires and up, that's 44% of the world's wealth: $116 trillion bucks. So yes, if you own a home worth more than $100k or so, you're worth something. But the world's millionaires and especially the world's 2400 or so billionaires run the show.
This kind of inequality can't sustain itself much longer.
Or can it?
Here's a bit of perspective on the ever-rising cost of elections, and the big-money donors who finance them: Three of the country's wealthiest political contributors each saw their net worth grow in 2014 by more than $3.7 billion, the entire cost of the midterm elections.
And as the 2016 presidential election approaches, almost all of those donors have even more cash to burn.
At least here it can, and it will.