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Bucking the trend: The billionaires just get richer

Recession? What recession? The number of billionaires has hit a new, all-time high despite the global economic turmoil.

Forbes – the ultimate publication for the world's super-rich – has counted some 1,226 billionaires across the globe. To qualify, they have to be worth $1,000,000,000 (£635.5m) or more.

Between them, all those billionaires own a record $4.6trn of wealth between them, with the richest, Mexico's Carlos Slim, holding on to $69bn. Microsoft's Bill Gates closed in on the telecoms mogul. His pile rose $5bn while Slim's fell by the same amount.

However, British tycoons and heirs were notably absent from the top list.

The best we could muster was the Duke of Westminster who, at No 78, is rubbing by on just $11bn. Earl Cadogan came next at $4.6bn followed by Sir Richard Branson and James Dyson, both on $4.2bn.

New names to watch included Sara Blakely, whose Spanx bodyshaping undies have earned her a $1bn fortune. There are 104 women billionaires, most of whom have inherited their wealth, although Chinese property mogul Wu Yajun made her own fortune.

For both sexes, Americans, Indians, Chinese and Russians dominate the lists.