The Phantom Billionaire Who’s Richer Than Warren Buffett

The Phantom Billionaire Who’s Richer Than Warren Buffett

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By Millie Dent

A practically unheard-of billionaire, Amancio Ortega, just blew past household name Warren Buffett to be the second-richest man in the world, according to Bloomberg. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who is worth $85.5 billion, remains first.

Oretega, who has amassed a net worth of $71.5 billion, is the founding chairman of the Inditex fashion group, the world’s largest apparel retailer. Inditex is best known for its chain of Zara clothing and accessories shops, which had sales of $19.7 billion in fiscal 2014.

Related: Bill Gates Is the World’s Richest Man Again. Or Is He?

Worth noting is that Warren Buffett, whose net worth of $70.2 billion puts him at third place, would be in second-place if not for his philanthropic giving.

A native of Spain, Ortega refuses almost all interview requests and until 1999, no photograph of him had ever been published. However, Zara is not so low-profile. The world’s biggest fashion retailer operates over 6,600 stores in more than 88 countries.

Inditex has shown strong growth year over year. In March, it reported net profit up 5 percent from the previous fiscal year. In addition, the company said it planned to open up 480 more stores this year.

Related: America’s Highest Paid CEO Is Not Who You Think

Key to Ortega’s success has been keeping Zara’s manufacturing close to its home base in the ancient port city of La Coruña, rather than outsourcing production to China to cut costs. This allows Zara to act quickly on new trends and put new products into stories right away. Zara shops receive new shipments of clothing twice a week, virtually unheard of among retail stores.

If Inditex brands continue to grow and Zara’s popularity extends to millennials and beyond, the mysterious billionaire’s wealth could eventually push him to number one on the list.

Chart of the Day: GDP Growth Before and After the Tax Bill

Paul Ryan with tax return postcard
By The Fiscal Times Staff

President Trump and the rest of the GOP are celebrating the recent burst in economic growth in the wake of the tax cuts, with the president claiming that it’s unprecedented and defies what the experts were predicting just a year ago. But Rex Nutting of MarketWatch points out that elevated growth rates over a few quarters have been seen plenty of times in recent years, and the extra growth generated by the Republican tax cuts was predicted by most economists, including those at the Congressional Budget Office, whose revised projections are shown below.

Are States Ready for the Next Downturn?

A <a href="http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/indexes/rasmussen_consumer_index/rasmussen_consumer_index" target="_blank">recent poll</a> taken by Rasmussen found that 68 percent of Americans believe that we are actually in a recession
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The Great Recession hit state budgets hard, but nearly half are now prepared to weather the next modest downturn. Moody’s Analytics says that 23 states have enough reserves to meet budget shortfalls in a moderate economic contraction, up from just 16 last year, Bloomberg reports. Another 10 states are close. The map below shows which states are within 1 percent of their funding needs for their rainy day funds (in green) and which states are falling short.

Chart of the Day: Evolving Price of the F-35

Reuters
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed in August included 77 F-35 Lightning II jets for the Defense Department, but Congress decided to bump up that number in the defense spending bill finalized this week, for a total of 93 in the next fiscal year – 16 more than requested by the Pentagon. Here’s a look from Forbes at the evolving per unit cost of the stealth jet, which is expected to eventually fall to roughly $80 million when full-rate production begins in the next few years.

Wages Are Finally Going Up, Sort of

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By Yuval Rosenberg

Average hourly earnings last month rose by 2.9 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Friday — the fastest wage growth since the recession ended in 2009. The economy added 201,000 jobs in August, marking the 95th straight month of gains, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9 percent.

Analysts noted, though, that the welcome wage gains merely kept pace with a leading measure of inflation, meaning that pay increases are largely or entirely being canceled out by higher prices. “The last time unemployment was this low, during the dot-com boom, wage growth was significantly faster — well above 3.5 percent,” The Washington Post’s Heather Long wrote. The White House Council of Economic Advisers this week issued a report arguing that wage gains over the past year have been better than they appear in official statistics.