Today we’re taking a look at some of the richest world leaders in office today, their estimated net worth, and how they got there. The life of a public servant is supposed to be about servitude to the nation you lead, and as such, most politicians make a healthy, but in comparison to their private enterprise counterparts, modest salary. In the US, a government employee with a professional or doctorate degree can expect to earn about 15-20% less than his private sector counterpart. Yet today many nations in the world are led by men in the top one percentile of their country’s wealthiest citizens- so how did they get there, and how much are they really worth?
First up is South Africa, currently led by President Cyril Ramaphosa who is estimated to be worth a whopping $550 million dollars. Ramaphosa has been chairman of both the MTN Group, a mobile telecommunications company, and SASRIA Limited, an insurance powerhouse. In 2010, he became Deputy President of the McDonalds franchise in South Africa, though he was forced to remove himself from that position due to his duties as deputy president. Since his ascension to President of South Africa, Ramaphosa has found himself under attack from critics who claim that his interest in the presidency is solely for the aim of gaining access to influential world leaders for business reasons.
The Middle East is no stranger to extreme wealth. As one of the world’s most oil-rich regions, the industrial revolution and extraction of petroleum skyrocketed the fortunes of leaders across the region. Few though ever had personal fortunes that could compare with United Arab Emirates’ president, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Though his personal wealth is valued at an estimated 1.71 billion dollars, his family is known to control a fortune of over 150 billion. As president of the UAE, Shiekh Khalifa is also head of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and its 850 billion dollar reservoir, a group responsible for managing the nation’s oil wealth and investing it on the government’s behalf.
From extreme wealth to modest earnings (by world leader standards), next we have France’s Emmanuel Macron. As a former investment banker, Macron earned millions, but would go on to lose a great deal of his money due to France’s high taxes on big earners and a substantial loan taken out to make improvements to his home. Though earning a comfortable salary of $194,000 a year, Macron’s current net worth is estimated to only be $600,000.
During the French election Macron himself told the press that he was no Donald Trump, but how much exactly is the president of the United States worth? Due to his various business enterprises and the fluctuating nature of the real estate market, it can be difficult to pin down the American ‘Billionaire President’s’ actual net worth.
During his campaign Donald Trump boasted that he was worth “at least $10 billion”- but this was a fact quickly debunked, with Forbes listing his estimated worth at a third of that figure: $3.5 billion dollars. With rampant rumors and allegations of many of his businesses being in the red however, Donald Trump’s assets, and thus his real net worth, may in fact be far, far below that. Either way, it’s safe to say that with business ventures ranging from resorts, to office buildings, to tv shows, the Trump name is going to stay in gold for the time being.
South of the US border and known for his Twitter back-and-forths with President Trump is Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto, with a declared net worth of 3.3 million. Though his presidency is fraught with allegations of corruption and election fraud, President Nieto sought to assuage public fears by revealing details of his personal worth, mostly in the form of real estate and some inherited wealth from his first wife who died in 2007.
From the South Pacific and very humble beginnings we have Indonesia’s Joko Widodo. As a child, President Widodo plied the streets with his father selling hand-hewn timber. He and his family lived in illegally-built shacks along the flood-prone Solo river, rebuilding after each flood. After working for years at a state-owned pulp mill, Widodo went into business for himself as a furniture maker and found great success, with showrooms across various continents. Today President Widodo is worth an estimated 2.5 million, and as Indonesia’s first non-political family or military president, his election is seen as a truly democratic step forward for the nation.
Next-door neighbor and across the Java Sea is Malaysia, and President Mahathir Bin Mohamad. Setting the world record for world’s oldest leader, President Mohamad serves at age 92 with an estimated net worth of $580 million. A lifelong politician and doctor, Mohammad created a private medical clinic early in his career and published a bestselling book in his home country. Unfortunately his political history is fraught with allegations of corruption, with many claiming that his personal wealth has been greatly enriched by his political dealings.
A world away in snowy Sweden we have President Stefan Lofven with a modest net worth of $9 million dollars. With his roots as a steel welder, President Lofven leveraged his training and political ambitions to become a trade union activist, culminating with his chairing of the Swedish IF Metall Trade Union.
Just a few hundred snowy miles to the south lies the Netherlands, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte. A lifelong academic and professional, Prime Minister Rutte’s original ambitions were to become a concert pianist, but instead decided to pursue his interests in world history. Just years after obtaining his Masters however, Rutte would enter the world of business as a manager for the Dutch-British consumer goods company Unilever, then later become senior member of the human resource staff where he would spearhead critical company-wide restructures. At an estimated $800,000, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s net worth may be on the low end of our show, but reflects the high earning potential of professional education in the private sector.
Continuing our tour of the European neighborhood, we look south once again to Germany, lead by the fearsome Angela Merkel. Growing up behind the Berlin Wall, Merkel’s early political life saw her forced into compulsory Stalinist-Marxist indoctrination as it was the only route to higher education. Quickly rejecting any Soviet-style political leanings however, Merkel would go on to obtain degrees in physics, and earned a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry. Entering the world of politics immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Merkel would go on to chair some of Europe’s most powerful and elite political groups. Today Angela Merkel is valued at an estimated $11.5 million, with assets in real estate and various investments.
Just across the North Sea and longtime ‘frienemy’ of Germany we have Britain and Prime Minister Theresa May. Notoriously private, financial details of the British ruler have been difficult to ascertain, but she is known to own two properties worth over a million dollars each- a home in London and a spacious 5-bedroom ‘mini mansion’ in the English countryside with American actor George Clooney as a neighbor. While her personal wealth is only around an estimated $2 million, her real estate holdings in London- the world’s most expensive and valuable real-estate market- will ensure her financial well-being for years to come.
Finally, we ‘hop across the pond’ as the British say, to America’s polite northern neighbor: Canada. Celebrated as one of the world’s most charismatic and intelligent leaders, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is known to engage in lengthy discussions on trade policy and quantum computing both. Inheriting an estimated $1.2 million from his family and with shares in a financial securities company, Trudeau was free to pursue his passion for education, but caught the public’s attention with his stunning eulogy at his father’s state funeral in 2000, resulting in multitudes of calls to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation demanding that they rebroadcast his speech. Today Prime Minister Trudeau is worth an estimated $10 million dollars, earning upwards of $450,000 a year in speaking fees before taking office.
From a whopping $150 billion dollar family fortune to a modest $600,000, this has been a look at some of the world’s richest- and surprisingly not-so-rich- world leaders. From real estate moguls to lifelong academics and wealthy inheritors, the world is led by a variety of men and women, but one thing is for certain: for anyone wishing to be a world leader, it doesn’t hurt to have a lot of money.
So, what are your thoughts on rich world leaders? Is it a good thing, or does it eventually lead to corruption? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called Which Countries are still truly communist?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!