Thursday, 16 November 2006

World's Biggest Double Counting Error?

I don't get it - how can W. Gates III still be "the world's richest man" with a NW around US$50b, when this appears to still count the $25b or so he donated to his charitable trust a couple of years ago?. Surely his net worth is now "only" $25b or thereabouts?. Either the money is still his, or else he's donated it to the trust and it isn't "his" anymore.

Year NetWorth (Forbes) in Trust (total)
2001 $58,700,000,000 n/a
2002 $52,800,000,000 n/a
2003 $40,700,000,000 $24,000,000,000
2004 $48,000,000,000 $27,000,000,000
2005 $46,500,000,000 $27,000,000,000
2006 $50,000,000,000 $29,000,000,000


A quick look at the Microsoft share price since 2001 shows that his net worth probably dropped from $52.8b in 2002 to $40.7b the following year - so he didn't suddently have an extra $24b to donate into his charitable trust - it must have come out of his net worth.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well technically/legally it's still his, he is just bound to spend it on charity.

According to wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trust_law

"In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship in which a person or entity (the trustee) holds legal title to certain property (the trust property or trust corpus), but is bound by a fiduciary duty to exercise that legal control for the benefit of one or more individuals or organizations (the beneficiary), who hold "beneficial" or "equitable" title"

Doug Pedersen said...

i thought that he had set his foundation up earlier than that. i know that at the hight of MSFT Gates was briefly worth more than $100 billion, but I thought he had started the foundtion shortly thereafter, which is how he dropped so fast.

You might be right, though, Forbes may be counting that wealth. Call them up and ask them.