Castles in France. Islands in the Caribbean. With a collective $1.27 trillion at their disposal, the members of The Forbes 400 could buy almost anything.

How about a country? A quick glance at the CIA Fact Book suggests the individual fortunes of many billionaires are as big as some of the world’s economies.

Bill Gates, America’s richest man with a net worth of $50 billion, has a personal balance sheet larger than the gross domestic product of 140 countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Bolivia and Uruguay.

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