Net Worth Of 400 Richest Americans Hits $1.7 Trillion, Means They Probably Don't Have To Eat Cereal For Dinner

First of all — yes, rich people also might enjoy cereal for dinner. The point is that the 400 richest Americans don’t have to opt for a bowl of corn flakes for four straight meals in a row because all together they’re worth $1.7 trillion. Impressive, right? And that’s a 13% bump from last year’s total. So many boxes of cereal could be purchased with that kind of wealth.

Forbes just released this year’s list, which includes that familiar gang of high rollers like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (Nos. 1 and 2, respectively), Oprah Winfrey, Mike Bloomberg and that young upstart, Mark Zuckerman. The Zuck dropped from 13 last year to 36 this year though, likely because of that whole Facebook stock dropping thing. So, ouch.

The average net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans is at $4.2 billion, a record high, says Forbes. That’s a lot, especially considering most of us don’t even have one measly billion to play with.

The magazine says the entire group’s net worth is equal to about one-eighth of the U.S. economy, but they did better at growing their wealth than the economy did in improving itself.

So the logical thing to do would be to just sending checks to random Americans, right? HINT HINT.

The Forbes 400 [Forbes]

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  1. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Well, with cereal prices the way they are, at least around here, you have to have some extra cash to eat cereal for dinner too! So, eating cereal for dinner may not be the best economic indicator.

  2. blogger X says:

    Trix tonight, Cap’n Crunch tomorrow.

  3. MutantMonkey says:

    Zuckerman or Zuckerberg?

  4. one swell foop says:

    Oh, I just love over priced, high value added food that isn’t particularly good for you. Even if I were rich I’d eat cereal for dinner instead of spending less money on basic ingredients that I could cook a nutritious meal with.

    • bnceo says:

      With coupons, I pay less for name brand than store brand. $1 a box!

      • one swell foop says:

        Doesn’t change the fact that the cereal market started as a way to monetize waste product, and it’s still not better for me than some whole rolled oats and an egg over easy cooked in olive oil.

  5. AtlantaCPA says:

    Let’s be real: it’s totally insane that as you make more money, you pay more in taxes, until you hit the magic point where you start paying less and less and less in taxes. Cases in point:

    Social Security: a nice flat percentage that everyone has to pay. Well, only on the first $100k-ish of your income. After that it’s Tax Free, Woo Hoo!

    Different tax rates for different types of income: If you can manage to amass enough money, you find other ways to make money and call it dividends or capital gains and *Poof!*, now it’s not really income anymore, so I should only have to pay like 15% on that income…I mean dividends. Hey I have an even better idea, how about I just call all of my income capital gains even though it’s what I’m paid for the job I do (Hedge fund managers, I’m looking at you).

    Am I over-simplifying? Yes, but I’m in the ballpark. I could go on to list other, more obscure examples but I’ve made my point. I think income should be income and we should have a simple table/formula for figuring out how much you owe for your income. Stop with the deductions and exceptions and loopholes and shenanigans. If you don’t make much, you don’t pay much (or anything, depending on how little it is), if you make a boatload of money, pay what you owe. Let the flaming begin…

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      That’s exactly what I’ve been saying we should do for a long, long time. And I’m a CPA. And yes, a chunk of my business is doing people’s returns. I personally hate it. But to do what I want to do (family planning/budgeting/business) I have to.

      It should be a simple formula – one deduction for adults, another for children. Then a flat rate. Those deductions make it progressive. Said and done.

      But it’ll never, EVER happen. Why? The tax code is as insane as it is because of graft. I want to look like I’m catering to the middle class, but I want to help out my buddies at DR Horton… *adds mortgage interest deduction*… I could go on and on.

      • ARP3 says:

        Exactly- one rate for ALL income. While you’re at it, you can remove itemized deductions (keep a large standard deduction), credits, etc. and maintain, or even lower the rates. The only exexmption I would be interested in keeping is on the sale of primary home. Of course, I’d be willing to give it up if eveyone else wants to pile on with their single exemption, deduction, etc. since that puts us back to the start.

        The underlying purpose behind capital gains (to make long term investments) has been swallowed by shareholders demands for more profits now. All other instances of Capital gains are as AtlantaCPA describes, using money to make more money as a living (and paying less tax for it) or alternative forms of compensation for doing a regular job.

        • pythonspam says:

          How about we stop using the tax code for social engineering altogether? Lower rates, get rid of all deductions and exemptions (including mortgage interest, dependent exemptions (why should we subsidize people having children? If they can’t afford them, don’t have them), and various credits that were inserted into the tax code to pander to specific groups).
          Make taxes simple enough so individuals can understand and do their own paperwork.

    • frank64 says:

      The SS is more like a retirement system, and the benefits are capped, so you SHOULD stop paying where the benefits stop. Also the SS benefits are taxed as one’s income climbs.

      Investment income also have good reasons to be taxed different. Inflation(now not as much a factor as normal), that losses aren’t fully deductible and to encourage investment. For dividends you get a double taxation. Also the money you made initially was taxed to invest. I agree professional money managers who don’t risk their own money should not get the lower rates.

      That being said, I agree with where you would like to go, I still think investment income should be more like it is now though, at least if you tax it the same make losses deductible. Most of the mid class will not like it because superficially they will be losing many deductions. The lower rates won’t convince them, they will see someone else as benefiting more and start crying.

    • Auron says:

      but but but but if you make a boatload of money, you shouldn’t pay more in taxes, because the more you pay in taxes, the fewer new jobs you’ll be able to create…….so thats why why the wealthiest shouldnt pay any taxes, because if they don’t pay taxes, they will then have that much more money to create new jobs, right? At least thats what the Republicants keep telling us,,,,

  6. crispyduck13 says:

    Corn flakes for dinner? Poseur. The truly broke know it’s ramen with no add-ins.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    Behind every great fortune is a great crime.

    Balzac

  8. TuxthePenguin says:

    “The magazine says the entire group’s net worth is equal to about one-eighth of the U.S. economy, but they did better at growing their wealth than the economy did in improving itself.”

    Oh dear Lord, Forbes/Mary Beth, do you not realize that one of these numbers (net worth) is net assets and the other (US economy) is essentially income? Those two cannot be compared.

    I wouldn’t dare to even guess what the net assets of the US economy is. Most likely in the hundreds of trillions. Thinks of all of those buildings, roads, equipment… all that would be added up to get to the net worth of the US economy. Hundreds of trillions is probably low given that the US economy generates trillions annually.

    Wow. Financial fail. Epic financial fail.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      This is why I love the comments section.

    • jojo319 says:

      Awesome comment. too bad the real math isn’t nearly as sexy.

    • JEDIDIAH says:

      Roads generally aren’t owned by individuals. So they hardly belong in the same category as personal or corporate assets.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        But if you’re talking about the US economy (a compilation of all individuals, corporations, other organizations and governments), you would include everything that is owned any entity in the US. Including government assets. Basically, build a wall around everything in the US and start counting. Then count the liabilities… and that would be the equivalent of the net worth of the US. Sans the wall. Because it doesn’t really exist.

        • nbs2 says:

          But if you build it, it exists. Unless you just rely on your neighbors wall – I suppose it wouldn’t be fair to count that as an asset, although it still helps the comparables.

          • TuxthePenguin says:

            That’s what we should have done to stimulate the economy. Build the wall so we can count our net assets as a country! Think of all the construction workers, auditors, bean counters and food truck drivers that would need to be employed to do all of that!

            Man, we really screwed up.

  9. dush says:

    They should definitely give all that extra money to the government to be passed out to the rest of us.

  10. Abradax says:

    So if you tax them and their wealth at 100%, you could cover the deficit for one year.

    Pay their fair share indeed.

    • jojo319 says:

      How come people who demand the rich pay their “fair share”, can never give a number on exactly what a “fair share” is. That’s the problem with those comments. “Fair” is a subjective term. And if you look at the actual numbers, the rich pay waaaaaayyyyy MORE than their fair share already, don’t they? For the record I am squarely in the mid – lower income bracket.

      • Abradax says:

        The reason they can’t answer it is because they know its a ridiculous argument once you start putting numbers to it.

        Oh, you paid 3 million dollars last year in taxes? That’s not enough.

        But if you say “you need to pay a little bit more” or “pay your fair share” it suddenly becomes acceptable. Notice that the people who LOVE to throw out percentages never state that although the top X make only YY% of the income, they pay ZZ% of the taxes? Its because that would destroy their “fair share” argument completely.

        • frank64 says:

          Their fair share is always what they are paying now plus what they want paid for.

          I think you should look at % of income, with some breaks for the bottom. At least the conversation should start there. Now keeping the rates as they are is “giving the rich a break on the backs of the middle class” Forget the middle class and lower brackets have gotten 2/3 of the Bush tax cuts.

      • JEDIDIAH says:

        An effective income tax rate equal your typical W2 wage earner would be an obvious place to start.

        No great mystery required.

        • Abradax says:

          They have the same tax rate on W2 wages that the average W2 wage earner earns, if not higher.

          And that same W2 wage earner has the same rate on their investments that Mr. rich guy does.

          So are you suggesting that we start taxing investments directly as income? That is really going to hurt those 401Ks and investment accounts of the people who don’t have that much money.

          Or are you suggesting that we tax successful people disproportioneatly, effectively ensuring there is no “fair share” just whatever the government can legallty confiscate to pay for whatever the hell they want to spend on?

          • crispyduck13 says:

            You’re right, they have the same W2 tax rate, but the Fed gives all these juicy loopholes that only someone with a full time accountant (or 3) can afford to sniff out.

            The effective tax rate of all these billionairs is less than yours or mine, this is not an opinion, it’s fact. The more money you make off investments vs. W2 income, the less your effective tax rate will be as compared to someone who’s salary is their sole source of income.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        I’d wager to guess “waaaaaayyy MORE” is just as subjective as “fair share.”

        As far as those “actual numbers” you might want to familiarize yourself with some.

        Seems the “fair share” 30 years ago was a lot higher than it is today. But then we knew that already, since it’s a subjective term.

        • Bsamm09 says:

          They would not mind going back to those days. You want to talk about loopholes? One of my tax professors used to talk about the pre-1986 tax days. There were many ways to structure income to avoid taxes.

          During our corporate and partnership lectures we would ask questions regarding shifting of income to try and turn ordinary income into capital gains and other preferred income or even get rid of income through disguised sales, allocation of certain items etc.

          These were just things that came to us as she spoke. Everyone was not allowed after 1986.

        • jojo319 says:

          the fact that we had a tax rate of 90% is actually pretty disgusting.

        • frank64 says:

          Many people throw around the 90% number as that means anything less than that means you are really getting a break rich person. First of all, marginal rates don’t reflect the true effective rates, as Bsamm90 says. Second, what was has no bearing on what should be. How about if I told a black person “who cares what water fountain you use, do you know you would have been a slave 100 years ago?”

          We need to look at what should be and not compare it to what was or what is. Especially as the circumstances are much different than 1950. Right now not implementing a planned increase is termed a tax break. The dialogue is all wrong.

  11. cameronl says:

    I like cereal for dinner.

    If I was rich, I’d be eating it for dinner every night… off a hooker’s chest.

    • mauispiderweb says:

      Only poor people get hookers.

      Rich people get whoever they want.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        Somewhat frequently, they have prostitution busts in this area (I think it’s just an area of focus for the PD). When you see the mug shots, you’d definitely have to think it was the poor getting the hookers, because the rich (or middle class) would take one look and pass.

        That may sound overly cruel, but one time they showed the mug shots on TV and my wife turned to me and asked “Is that a woman? Or the guy?” Hard to tell many times.

        • Applekid says:

          Just another case of the law applied differently based on who you are. The kind of mugshots you see are of the poor: the hookers, streetwalkers, girls turning tricks at massage parlors, and their Johns.

          Upscale, where the rich hang out, it’s not “sucky sucky five dollah” ala carte. It’s five digits + travel + expenses for an exclusive weekend of geisha and concubine activities. They don’t pick these girls up from the street, they call agencies, referred through by trusted contacts. These prostitutes and their clients simply don’t have the exposure to get caught.

          Just for reference, Ashley Dupree still had an hourly rate, so, she wasn’t that upscale. Sorry, Spitzer.

          • cameronl says:

            Yeah, I’m talking about high-class escorts here, not skanky streetwalkers by the overpass. I ALREADY eat my cereal off THEM.

          • frank64 says:

            We need to tax the rich people that go to these high class escorts and use the money for programs that allow the poor to also go to them. Going to those street girls is demeaning let me tell you.

      • dush says:

        But with a hooker you never have to wonder if she just wants you for your money.

  12. DabNabIt says:

    Just think …. if you confiscated alll their wealth, and could somehow find buyers to turn it all into cash …. you could just pay off a single year’s deficit.

    • dush says:

      And that’s just the federal deficit for one year. Just think about all the state and local govt budget shortfalls.

  13. Jevia says:

    Yay for the top 400 to increase their worth 13% this last year, when most Americans saw their net worth continue to drop.

    Is Mittens on the list?

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Mister Romney says to shut up, you leech!

    • Abradax says:

      I hope so. I applaud successful Americans. Why don’t you?

      • Applekid says:

        There’s a difference between success from one’s own merits and success by stealing from those who can’t defend themselves.

        • Abradax says:

          Right, they all steal to get their money.

          The programming is complete.

          • Applekid says:

            If the rising ride floats all boats, how come bottom percentages of people aren’t doing nearly as well? How come unemployment is still in the shitter? How come we’re still having record foreclosures? How come take home pay has been stagnant for so long? Meanwhile, hey, executive take home pay is doing GREAT. Where’s is all coming from if not from those who can’t just strike a pen on paper and raise prices or everyday necessities?

            • dush says:

              The wealthier people with many assets have their assets appreciate. Those with no assets get no appreciation. That’s why the disparity. This story isn’t any real surprise given that the DOW index has doubled in value the last three years.
              However, the rising tide also means that all those little pensions and 401k plans of those “bottom percentage” people are getting bigger again too.

            • frank64 says:

              We need to look at the high drop out rates and the babies that are born out of wedlock. I don’t think the rich are the cause of this. We also need to look at our high immigrant population. It normamly takes a few generations for them to get a foothold. I think the Democrats and spokesman for these groups would do much better to focus on helping this group instead of telling them they are victims. The 99% don’t need to gov to help these people, they(we) can do this ourselves. Many do not want to be where they are, but see no way out, we should try to find a way to help them find a way out. I don’t think the rich are the problem, many rich do help out. Our focus is wrong because the dialogue is wrong.

              As more of a libertarian, I do think there are issue with some people making to much, I am not sure how to do anything about it, and I am not sure it would actually help us. Much of the reason is not due to government protections, but the way the way we as consumers spend our money. Most industries evolve into a few market leaders, this makes those at the top rich and those that take them there worth a lot. I way oversimplified here I know. I know some gov policies do protect these corps or interest groups, and I think there could be things done, much would be to break up monopolies, or at least the power they have.

              • DabNabIt says:

                The “too rich” get most of their benefits from cronyism. My biggest gripe with Occupy is that they somehow think the government has an interest in helping clobber Wall Street. They have the common statist failure of not believing that individuals can solve their own problems, IFFF the government would just get out of the way. Fat cats who break laws must be prosecuted by the government, who are mostly their buddies or want to be. The solution is letting victims handle criminal prosecutions themselves, just as they do with civil lawsuits. But that scares statists, who come up with any number of excuses to prevent it. Yes it could be abused, but so can civil lawsuits, and they aren’t,so that too is just another statist excuse.

                Like I said, empowered individuals scare the crap out of statists.

              • RandomHookup says:

                The problem is that it’s exceedingly difficult to find a straightforward solution to helping people get out of poverty without trying to run their lives. When you don’t see a way out (realistic or not), you stop trying and take the shortcut to short term happiness. Our current welfare system discourages fathers from stepping up and being involved in their children’s lives, but we as a society don’t want to leave mothers (and really the children) without a safety net because we pay for that longer term.

                Platitudes and name calling won’t solve it from any direction. Maybe only a vastly robust economy will, but even that leaves people behind.

      • who? says:

        I suppose it depends on your definition of success. My definition of success includes caring for my fellow man, not squeezing him dry as I move his job overseas.

      • crispyduck13 says:

        I applaud successful Americans that actually had to work hard or produced something that earned them that success.

        Mitt Romney does not qualify.

      • dolemite says:

        Because they aren’t necessarily successful simply because of their individual hard work. There’s a lot of advantages for them. They operate under a different set of rules than we do. For instance, Romney’s 13% tax rate. Offshore accounts. How he magically created an IRA that grew 100 million in 10 years, despite contribution limits. That’s not even getting into subsidies, R&D, tax breaks that corporations finagle for themselves that Mom and Pop down on the corner wish they had. Did you see how Romney says he “balanced the budget” on the Olympics? That’s because he took millions in free money from the government to do so! Then he complains about retirees on social security and military people leeching off of the government in the same breath!

        If Romney had grown up in a ghetto with public schooling, having to get loans and grants to go to school and then he made his millions, that would be one thing. It’s REALLY REALLY easy to be successful when you’ve got say… a dad that owns an automobile empire with lots of connections to fall back on, and a Harvard degree dad paid for under your belt, along with all the tax shelters and other benefits none of the rest of us have.

        I’m not saying he hasn’t done work in his life, but it’s dangerous to think any old American off the street has a shot of being successful like Romney without that kind of background and help from others. You’re more likely to win the Mega Millions.

  14. kjherron says:

    If I had a million dollars (if I had a million dollars)…

  15. SpeakR40Dead says:

    Where is the presidential candidate on this list?

  16. HomerSimpson says:

    Hey now! Those are teh jub creators you’re complaining about! Keep it up and they won’t create any more!

  17. NotEd says:

    That Zucks.

  18. frank64 says:

    If you look at the world’s distribution of wealth you see that we have much more than we should based on population. If we are going to redistribute, why stop with our country, we can distribute to the world. Many of the same reasons to do int inter country would apply. Something to think about.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_distributionofwealth_GDP_and_population_by_region.gif