Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, right.
LOS ANGELES -- The nation's economic woes don't appear to be hurting Bill Gates, who tops Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans for the 18th year in a row.
The magazine said yesterday that the Microsoft Corp. co-founder and philanthropist's wealth amounts to $59 billion, ranking him ahead of all the other billionaires on the list.
Mr. Gates' fortune swelled by $5 billion from a year ago, outpacing the No. 2 on the list, Warren Buffett, whose net worth is $39 billion, Forbes said. Mr. Buffett was the only person among the top 20 whose fortune shrank from a year ago.
The Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and CEO's fortune decreased by $6 billion -- the largest loss by anyone on the Forbes 400 this year, the magazine said.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison rounds out the top three richest Americans with a net worth of $33 billion, $6 billion more than last year.
Financier George Soros took seventh place, his first time among the top 10, with $22 billion.
Three members of the Walton family, descendants of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton, are among the top 10. Rounding out the top 10 are Sheldon Adelson, CEO of casino developer and operator Las Vegas Sands Corp., and the oil brothers Charles and David Koch.
Forbes said the combined wealth of the 400 people on this year's list is $1.5 trillion, with an average net worth of $3.8 billion, a 12 percent increase from last year.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was the biggest dollar gainer on the list, with a net worth of $17.5 billion that earned him the No. 14 spot.