Bloomberg seems very excited about its newfangled "Bloomberg Billionaires Index" which, like Forbes' "The World's Billionaire List" before it, serves mainly as a reminder of how much money you don't have. Unlike the famous Forbes list, the new Bloomberg list takes a snapshot at 5:30 p.m. every day of how much each ultra-rich businessmen -- emphasis on men -- are worth according to closing market prices that day. So instead of an annual ritual, we now have a daily scorecard of those individuals around the world with the biggest war chests. The first list comes from the end of the day on March 2nd. (Mark Zuckerberg is not on the list.) Capitalism never smelled so fresh.
Well, it's sort of stale actually. We've seen it happen before, as Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal points out: "Back in 1999, CNET unveiled its CEO Wealth Meter, designed to track the wealth of tech CEOs, who regularly lost or made (usually made) billions in a day based on the change of their companies stock," he writes. "If history is any guide, when wealth meters come: RUN! A crash is probably on its way."
These men whose fortunes rise and fall by dozens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, within a 24-hour period of time, seems like an unhealthy addition to our current state of hand-wringing over the economy. Here's the first top three:
- Carlos Slim -- Net worth: $68.5 billion, down $478.4 million in one day -- The Mexican media and manufacturing mogul on the top of the Forbes annual list, also tops the first edition of the Bloomberg daily edition. This is the same Carlos slim who owns 7.5 percent of The New York Times and pretty much all of the communications infrastructure in North America south of the border. The amount his wealth fluctuates on a daily basis makes the $100 million gift Zuckerberg pledged to the Newark school system seem like a decent tip to one's helicopter pilot.
- Bill Gates -- Net worth: $62.4 billion, down $102.1 million in one day -- The Microsoft founder and Harvard dropout isn't number one any more, but he'll be fine. Just last September, Gates held the No. 1 slot on the Forbes list; however, if Microsoft releases any of the crazy futuristic technology they've been building in their labs, he could leapfrog ahead of Slim in no time. Furthermore, based on the names we've seen on the list, Gates is losing money most slowly.
- Warren Buffett -- Net worth: $43.8 billion, down $336.9 million in one day -- Berkshire Hathaway has been Buffett's baby since 1965, and it's taking care of him in his old age. The 81-year-old is keeping up with his contemporaries yet still living in that little ranch house in Omaha. Humility, it must be said, is rare among these men.
Which bring us back to our suspicion that this real-time index is yet another list of rich, mostly white guys and their astronomical bank accounts. You can decide for yourself if you need to follow that sort of thing every day.