29/12/2016 17:41 SAST | Updated 24/01/2017 21:07 SAST

World's Richest People Made $237 Billion In 2016

That's R3.24 trillion. It was a good year if you were a billionaire.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, takes his seat to speak at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Washington in October 2015.

Billionaires had a pretty awesome 2016.

The world's 200 wealthiest people made a combined US$237 billion (about R3.24 trillion) this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, bringing their total net worth up to $4.4 trillion.

The biggest winner was Warren Buffett, who made a cool US$11.8 billion. He's the world's second richest person, with a net worth of US$74.1 billion, preceded by Bill Gates' first-place-worth of US$91.5 billion.

For context, the world's poorest 3.6 billion people (just under half the world's population) had a net worth of US$1.76 trillion in 2015, according to a study by Oxfam. That's just US$488 per person.

Wealth has become concentrated in just a few places in the world ... it's a ticking time bomb

It was a big win for the wealthy, despite being such an economically volatile year.

Britain's vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump's shocking U.S. election win saw the billionaires' wealth fluctuate through US$4.8 trillion of daily gains and losses before ending the year on a high note.

The rankings highlight exactly how much global wealth inequality has grown in recent years.

In November, Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed Yunus cautioned that a growing income divide is worsening social tensions.

"Wealth has become concentrated in just a few places in the world ... it's a ticking time bomb and a great danger to the world," he said, as reported by Reuters.

"This creates tension among people at the bottom (of the income ladder). They blame refugees and minorities — and unscrupulous politicians exploit this."

Here are the world's five richest people as of Dec. 28, 2016, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index:

  1. Bill Gates (Net worth: US$91. billion)
  2. Warren Buffett (Net worth: US$73.6 billion)
  3. Amancio Ortega (Net worth: US$71.2 billion)
  4. Jeff Bezos (Net worth: US$67.2 billion)
  5. Mark Zuckerberg (Net worth: US$50.8 billion)