The world’s 500 richest people saw their fortunes crash by more than $100bn (£72bn) on Monday, and incurred further losses on Tuesday as stock markets around the world plunged.
Optimism over US tax cuts and fears that inflation and interest rates could be on the rise dragged US equities down, hitting renowned investor and Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman particularly hard.
Warren Buffett lost $5.1bn index on Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index, thanks largely to the fact that he holds more than 400,000 shares in the investment company he bought in 1965. Berkshire is a major shareholder in US bank Wells Fargo, which plunged 9.2 per cent, making it the biggest loser in S&P 500 on Monday.
Wells Fargo was down a quarter of a per cent on Tuesday morning in New York while Berkshire was trading broadly level.
It is likely to be little more than a blip for Mr Buffett who has been an advocate of long-term, value investing. The approach has stood him well: Berkshire delivered more than 20 per cent average annual returns from 1965 to 2016 and made Mr Buffett the world’s third-richest person.
The 87-year-old investor was not the only financier to see large sums wiped off his shareholdings this week. On Bloomberg’s ranking, 18 billionaires lost more than $1bn on Monday.
The world’s richest person, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, lost $3.3bn, taking him down to $116.4bn as shares in the retail giant shares fell 2.8 per cent on Monday. They inched higher just shaded into positive territory on Tuesday.
Despite the fall, Mr Bezos’ wealth has surged by $17bn already this year as Amazon has reported its best ever quarterly profits.
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune tumbled by $3.6bn on Monday and fell a further £300m on Tuesday as the social networking firm’s shares continued to fall.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google parent company Alphabet, each took hits of about $2.3bn on Monday. They endured further losses on Tuesday as Alphabet slipped 0.5 per cent, equating to a further loss of about £100m each.
The FTSE 100 fell sharply on Tuesday, following the dramatic stock market sell-offs across the US and Asia.
The UK’s benchmark stock index tumbled 3.5 per cent shortly after the market open before recovering slightly, mirroring similar losses across France, Germany and other European markets.