The number of billionaires around the world has fallen considerably over the past year, from 538 to 497, according to Forbes magazine's latest rich list.

But it's interesting to know the IT slump hasn't adversely affected Bill Gates' (pictured) bank account. The software magnate, worth a whopping $52.8bn (£37bn), ranked number one on the rich list.

Michael Dell, who launched Dell computers from his dorm room at university in 1984, is valued at a massive $11.1bn (£7.8bn) which places him in a more 'humble' 18th position.

Although the news doesn't exactly inspire sympathy from the majority of us middle-income workers, it is good to know that even the rich are facing turbulent times.

For every billionaire who joined or returned to the list — 30 in all — two others departed.

No British residents made it into the list.

"It's good to know that despite the apparent economic slump, the world's richest people haven't suffered too badly," said a spokesman at the Financial Services Authority. "Hopefully as things pick up next year we'll see a few more home-grown faces on the list as well."

Perhaps it could be you — but don't hold your breath.

The Top 25

1 Gates, William H III 52.8 United States

2 Buffett, Warren E 35.0 United States

3 Albrecht, Karl & Theo 26.8 Germany

4 Allen, Paul G 25.2 United States

5 Ellison, Lawrence J 23.5 United States

6 Walton, Jim C 20.8 United States

7 Walton, John T 20.7 United States

8 Walton, Alice L 20.5 United States

8 Walton, S Robson 20.5 United States

10 Walton, Helen R 20.4 United States

11 Alsaud, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal 20.0 Saudi Arabia

12 Quandt, Johanna & family 18.4 Germany

13 Bettencourt, Liliane 14.9 France

13 Thomson, Kenneth & family 14.9 Canada

15 Ballmer, Steven A 14.8 United States

16 Kamprad, Ingvar 13.4 Sweden

17 Slim Helu, Carlos 11.5 Mexico

18 Dell, Michael S 11.1 United States

19 Rausing, Kirsten & family 10.7 Sweden

20 Kluge, John W 10.5 United States

21 Anthony, Barbara Cox 10.1 United States

21 Chambers, Anne Cox 10.1 United States

23 Li Ka-shing 10.0 Hong Kong

24 Kwok, Walter, Thomas & Raymond 9.2 Hong Kong

25 Ortega, Amancio 9.1 Spain