(p. A2) With a fortune exceeding $150 billion, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was recently declared the richest person in modern history.
But is he?
The answer depends on how you account for the wealth of past contenders for the title.
There are at least five ways to do that, and each provides a different result, according to Samuel H. Williamson, an economist and president of the website Measuring Worth.
Real wealth, the most familiar yardstick, accounts for the relative purchasing power of a particular sum by adjusting it for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.
Using that measure, the fortune of John D. Rockefeller, America’s first billionaire and Mr. Bezos’ stiffest competition among latter day aristocrats, would equal only $24 billion today.
Working in reverse, Mr. Bezos’ fortune would amount to about $6.5 billion in 1916, when Rockefeller’s riches first hit the $1 billion mark.
For the full commentary, see:
Jo Craven McGinty. “THE NUMBERS; Bezos vs. Rockefeller, a Rich History Lesson.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018): A2.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Aug. 10, 2018, and has the title “THE NUMBERS; Is Jeff Bezos Really the Richest of Them All?”)