NEW YORK, NY — The latest victim of the mortgage and credit crises and the volatile stock market is the Forbes magazine (motto: “Make a ‘fortune’ reading us!”) Forbes 400 – the magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans – which dropped 327 names yesterday in heavy trading.
“We haven’t seen the list in this state of flux since the Great Depression,” said publisher Steve “Steve” Forbes. When it was pointed out that the Forbes 400 has only been in existence since 1982, Forbes said, “Well, it would have been around since the Great Depression if this country had a flat tax.”
When the latest edition of the Forbes 400 was compiled in September, the minimum net worth needed to make the list was $1.3 billion. With the value of stock portfolios plummeting, names have been sliding off the list like lipstick off a greased pig. Even the top is unstable, with Warren Buffet passing Bill Gates on the strength of Berkshire Hathaway versus the weak performance of Gates’ investments in Microsoft and Jerry Seinfeld.
Most hedge fund and private equity holders dropped off the list and had no one take their places. Same is true for investment bankers, CEOs, insurance executives, bank presidents and beer heiresses. “I found only 73 Americans I’d call rich by our strict standards,” said Forbes. “And that was only by bending the rules to allow rappers, professional video game players and winners on “Deal or No Deal.””
Forbes predicts that the Forbes 400 will regain the 327 names it dropped once the $700 billion bailout kicks in. In the meantime, he’s auctioning three positions to the highest bidders on eBay.