Last week Bloomberg offered some competition to Forbes' annual billionaires lists with its own daily "Bloomberg Billionaires Index," so when the original wealth-ranker released its "World's Billionaires" feature today, it felt like déjà vu.
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The Forbes list, available online today, is published every March. (Its companion, the "Forbes 400" list of richest Americans, is published in September.) It's hard to not feel that Bloomberg's outing takes some of the air out of Forbes usually-hyped cover story on who are the world's richest people. This year's edition proves unexciting not only because there were few shake-ups in the top spots from 2011's list, but also because these rankings don't appear all that different from Bloomberg's.
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Highlights from 2012's version: With $69 billion, Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu ranks No. 1 again for the third year in the row. (The magazine also profiled him.) Helu was followed by another 1,225 billionaires, starting with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Bernard Arnault (of Louis Vuitton fame), who were also two through four last year. But beside no one being knocked off the top of this year's Forbes list, it's markedly similar to how rich Bloomberg News told us these folks were. Here's a side-by-side comparison, with Forbes on the left and Bloomberg on the right.
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So there are slight differences. Bloomberg has Arnault one spot lower and places fashion mogul Amancio Ortega down to seventh. Bloomberg puts the Koch brothers in the top 10, whereas Forbes had them both pegged at 12th. But isn't this hair-splitting? If anything, the discrepancies show how hard it is to measure rich people's riches.
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What today's Forbes list shows more than anything is that we don't need two billionaires lists reminding us how wealthy the wealthy are. If we had to choose one, we'd go with Bloomberg's, since it's updated daily instead of once a year. But we doubt that will stop Forbes from producing its longstanding annual issue as long folks keep buying it.