The Gilded Age
The billionaire next door: Nine Houstonians rank among the world's richest
As Warren Buffett says, "When it's raining gold, reach for a bucket, not a thimble."
The financial upheaval has made a mess of the global economy over the last couple of years, but with crisis comes opportunity. Forbes list of the world's billionaires now includes 1,011 people—up significantly from the 793 a year ago.
And among the richest of the rich are 40 Texans and nine Houstonians.
The highest Houston native on the list is Dan Duncan, coming in at No. 74 with $9 billion made in the energy field. (He might have placed himself a couple rungs up above Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlesconi had he not donated $270 million to medical research and education in the past five years.)
Oil and other energy fortunes funded several of the Houston billionaires, including John Arnold (No. 212, $4 billion), Richard Kinder (No. 249, $3.6 billion), Woodlands founder George Mitchell (No. 437, $2.2 billion), Jeffrey Hildebrand (No. 488, $2 billion), Texans owner Bob McNair (No. 721, $1.4 billion) and Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams. (No. 880, $1.1 billion).
Other Houstonians on the list include lawyer Joe Jamail (No. 655, $1.5 billion), Astros owner Drayton McLane (also No. 655, $1.5 billion), and Gulf States Toyota baron Thomas Friedkin (No. 721, $1.4 billion).
When it comes to Texan billionaires, Dallas still claims a majority of the 40, but the highest-ranked Texans actually reside in Ft. Worth (Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, No. 16, $20.6 billion) and Austin (Dell founder Michael Dell, No. 37, $13.5 billion). Texas has more billionaires than any other state except California and New York.
Internationally, Americans still dominate the list with 40 percent of the world's billionaires, but the hold is slipping. The top of the list is growing increasingly diverse, with only three Americans in the top 10 and Bill Gates coming in second for only the second time in the past 16 years.
The new No. 1 is Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, whose growing fortune is valued at $53.5 billion to Gates's $53 billion.
Asian billionaires are on the rise, with just 14 less than Europe, and for the first time (communist!) China has the second-most billionaires in the world with 89, eclipsing third-place Russia's 62.