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10 shocking wealth facts

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, February 11, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Looking for some interesting tidbits about wealth and investing to share at your next dinner party? The Motley Fool accumulated 100 startling facts about the economy; we give you 10 that are guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has earned $100,000 every hour he's been alive.

1. Adjusting for inflation, Warren Buffett was a millionaire by age 25.

2. In 2011, Asia had more millionaires than North America for the first time ever, according to RBC Wealth Management.

3. If you divide their net worths by their age, Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, and Microsoft's Bill Gates have each accumulated more than $100,000 in net worth for every hour they've been alive.

Giving

4. U.S. charitable giving was $298 billion in 2011, according to the Giving USA Foundation. That's more than the gross domestic product of all but 33 countries in the world.

5. Since 2008, Americans have donated $19.1 million to the U.S. Treasury to help pay down the national debt. These are actual citizen donations, not taxes.

Investing

6. Including dividends, Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 135 percent from March 2009 through January 2013, during what people remember as the "Great Recession." It gained the exact same amount from 1996 to 2000, during what people remember as the "greatest bull market in history."

7. According to Bloomberg, "Americans have missed out on almost $200 billion of stock gains as they drained money from the market in the past four years, haunted by the financial crisis."

8. As of January 2013, there are 16 people left in the world who were born in the 1800s, according to the Gerontology Research Group. With dividends reinvested, U.S. stocks have increased 28,000-fold during their lifetimes.

9. According to a study by Harvard professor David Wise and two colleagues, 46.1 percent of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets.

10. Franklin Templeton asked 1,000 investors whether the S&P 500 went up or down in 2009 and 2010. Sixty-six percent thought it went down in 2009, while 49 percent said it declined in 2010. In reality, the index gained 26.5 percent in 2009 and 15.1 percent in 2010.

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