March 5, 2013 -- There are more billionaires in the world than ever before. According to Forbes, their ranks have swelled to a bloated 1,426. And they have a record net worth of $5.4 trillion.
While the United States has more billionaires than any other country with a tally of 442, the richest person in the world for the fourth straight year is Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim. His net worth sits at about $73 billion.
Bill Gates of Microsoft comes in at number two with a net worth of $67 billion, and Spaniard Amancio Ortega of the clothing empire Zara sits at number three with a net worth of $57 billion. Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway and Larry Ellison of Oracle round out the top five, with net worths of $53.5 billion and $43 billion respectively.
The net worth of these five wealthiest people is a staggering $293.5 billion. To give you some idea of just how much money that is, if they joined to form a country, they would be the sixth richest country in Latin America. Only Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela, in that order, would rank higher.
Now consider where Slim would rank if he were his own country: He would be the eighth richest of the 21 Latin American countries. Amancio Ortega would come in at number nine, just ahead of Guatemala, which has a GDP of $50.3 billion.
The tiny Falkland Islands, meanwhile, have the lowest GDP in Latin America at $164.5 million—yes, that's million with an m—which is roughly 0.23 percent of Carlos Slim's fortune.
As a whole, the total GDP for Latin America is about $5.6 trillion. Brazil has the highest GDP in the area at $2.425 trillion, followed by Mexico at $1.163 trillion. That means you'd need all of the billionaires in the world plus another $200 billion to have as much money as all of Latin America.
But the United States is by far the wealthiest nation in the world, with a GDP of about $15.65 trillion—nearly three times the total GDP of Latin America. The United States also makes up more than a fifth of the estimated Gross World Product (GWP), which is about $71.62 trillion. For comparison, the estimated 2012 GDP of the entire European Union is only about a trillion dollars more than that of the United States. That means you'd need to multiply the wealth of all the world's billionaires by about three to have as much money as all of the U.S.
Our conclusion? It's still better to be a billionaire than a country.