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US has Half Billionaire population

The U.S., also thrived, adding 69 new billionaires. The U.S. is now home to an astonishing 341 billionaires, just shy of half the world's billionaire population. Strong stock markets fueled much of this growth: Since the end of January 2003, the S&P 500 is up 38%, and the Nasdaq has gained 56%.
In just the last two years, we have added an astonishing 215 new names to the ranks of the world's billionaires. In 2003 we found 476 billionaires. Today it's a record 691. Their aggregate net worth has grown from $1.4 trillion to $2.2 trillion. The average net worth has also jumped, from $2.9 billion to $3.2 billion. To what do the billionaires owe their good fortunes?
Obviously, many non-U.S. billionaires have seen their dollar-denominated fortunes grow because of the weakness of the dollar. For instance, a billionaire whose fortune is based in euros could have done absolutely nothing in the past two years and still be 20% richer on our U.S.-dollar-based list. A Canadian-dollar fortune would be worth 25% more. And the Aussies picked up more than 30% gains. (Click here to read more about the currency effect.)
Five years ago, technology and the Internet fueled much of the new wealth. Not so these past two years, as a number of industries thrived. Finance created 27 fortunes in the past two years; real estate was the source of 16; and food and beverages created 12. Gaming created two new fortunes and boosted American casino titan Sheldon Adelson's net worth by $14 billion.
Of course, commodities have begun their own bull run of late. A barrel of crude oil cost just $20 in early 2002. Today a barrel costs north of $50. Driven in large measure by demand from China, steel prices are up 60% this year alone. Iron ore, steel and copper have also realized similar surges in price per ton. As a result, mineral-rich nations like Ukraine and Kazakhstan now have their first billionaires.

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