World’s Richest Lose $100 Billion in Week of Stock Drops


11 February, 2018

U.S. stocks suffered their worst losses in years last week. Among the biggest losers were the world's top billionaires.

Financial experts blamed the first major drop last Monday on investor fears over possible rising inflation and higher interest rates. The Dow regained some ground, but then suffered another drop on Thursday after reports of an increasing U.S. government budget deficit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, also known as the Dow, is a stock market index of 30 large companies based in the U.S.

A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange headlines the stock index news at the close of trading, Feb. 5, 2018.
A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange headlines the stock index news at the close of trading, Feb. 5, 2018.

The losses followed a long period of gains in U.S. stocks when the Dow reached a historic high of 26,616 on January 26.

In repeated tweets and in his recent State of the Union address, U.S. President Donald Trump praised the financial gains. "The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion and more in value in just this short period of time," he said.

At first, Trump remained silent on last Monday's losses. But he took to Twitter later on Wednesday to comment.

"In the ‘old days,' when good news was reported, the Stock Market would go up," he wrote. "Today, when good news is reported, the Stock Market goes down. Big mistake, and we have so much good (great) news about the economy!"

Many financial experts have said the big stock drops were not that unusual after the recent gains. They have called the major drops a "correction" in the stock market. A correction is defined as at least a 10 percent drop in stocks since the previous peak.

Analysts expected stocks in many other parts of the world to also have their worst week in years, Reuters news agency reported. Asian markets suffered big losses during the week, including a four percent drop in Chinese stocks on Friday.

European stocks also fell, but not as much as markets across Asia. Bloomberg reported that recent worldwide sell-offs had removed at least $5 trillion from global stocks since January.

The losses affected the values of companies and the holdings of many American investors.

The world's billionaires lost a combined $114 billion on Monday alone, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. A total of 18 billionaires in the rankings lost more than $1 billion on the day.

The biggest loser on Monday was businessman and investor Warren Buffett, whose worth on paper dropped by $5.1 billion. Bloomberg ranks Buffett as the third richest person in the world. His current total net worth is listed at $82.6 billion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost the next largest amount, $3.6 billion. He is number four on the richest people list, with a current net worth of $70.8 billion.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – listed as the richest person in the world – lost $3.2 billion. But unlike the others, he is currently still way up for the year to date, by at least $14.2 billion. His overall net worth is now estimated to be $113 billion.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates – who holds the number two position on the wealthiest list behind Bezos – lost $2.2 billion.

And the top executives for Google's parent company Alphabet – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – each lost $2.3 billion, Bloomberg reported.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, Bloomberg and other sources. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

smash v. to beat or destroy easily or completely

peak n. the highest level or degree of excellence, quantity, activity, etc.

ranking n. list of people or things that are ordered according to quality, ability, size, etc.

holdings n. property (such as land or stocks) that is owned by someone —usually plural

net worth – n. the higher amount of the value of assets over liabilities.