Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and richest person on Earth, is expected by many to be the first to reach trillionaire status.
If the world’s greatest fortunes continue to grow at their current rate, boosted by the rapid wealth creation in emerging markets such as India and China then Gates or one of the planet’s super-rich elite could have a trillion dollars to their name by 2039, according to some predictions.
Others, such as investment bank Credit Suisse, believe there will be 11 trillionaires within just two generations.
“Two generations ahead, future extrapolation of current wealth growth rates yields almost a billion millionaires, equivalent to 20 per cent of the total adult population,” the bank wrote in its annual Global Wealth Report last year.
“If this scenario unfolds, then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too, eleven according to our best estimate.”
A trillion dollars is a million million or $1,000,000,000,000 (£590,000 million), the equivalent of $140 for every person on the planet.
It is enough money to buy up every last inch of property in central London at today’s prices, according to The Times.
Bill Gates, 58, currently the richest man on Earth with a fortune of £72 billion, is widely expected to be the world’s first trillionaire.
If the US national wealth carries on growing at its current rate and the richest few continue to increase their share of it in an increasingly polarised economy, Mr Gates will claim the title of world’s first trillionaire in his old age.
The share of America’s national wealth held by the country’s 400 richest individuals has more than tripled from less than one per cent to three per cent since the Forbes 400 list was launched in 1982.
American tax lawyer Bob Lord, who writes for Inequality.org, believes the growing concentration of world wealth will lead to a trillionaire in just a quarter of a century.
“We're sliding back to Gilded Age levels of wealth concentration,” he said.
“My guess is 2039 is the most likely time frame to cross that threshold.”
When Forbes began tracking the wealth of the richest 400 Americans, those with $75 million could make it onto the low end of the list. Now at least $1 billion is needed.
Other contenders for the world’s first trillionaire include Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms mogul and legendary US investor Warren Buffett.
But there are some that doubt the 25-year predictions and believe it may take few generations for another Gates-style entrepreneur to take the title.
Oliver Williams, of the London-based consultants Wealth Insight, told The Times: “You can’t be exact on when we will see the first trillionaire, and it is ‘when’ not ‘if’, but it is doubtful that it will be within 25 years; double that estimate would be more likely.
“The first trillionaire will be an inventor, someone who creates something world-changing, like Bill Gates did with the PC.
“It might be a solution to a global problem, such as the lack of fresh water, or something the world didn’t know we needed, like Facebook.”
Mr Williams believes the world’s first trillionaire would almost certainly be based in the US, where wealth accumulation is most acute.
Others argue they may come from a fast-growing economy such as India.
Source: By Miranda Prynne, News Reporter