No, it’s not the United States. According to the list of the world’s billionaires released by Forbes today, the U.S. doesn’t even break the top ten. If you had a hunch that it might be a tiny country with a still-relatively-small but proportionally large number of billionaires, ding! It’s Monaco. Monaco has three billionaires—specifically, David and Ezra Nahmad, two brothers who are art “megadealers,” along with Lily Safra, the widow of a wealthy banker.
If you’re very wealthy, of course, you can re-create an American living standard in the heart of Europe. In fact, while Europe is a bad place to get rich, it is arguably the best place to be rich. Consider: in exchange for steep taxes and tolls, European motorists get the ability and de facto right to drive 100 miles per hour. If you’re in the top 5% of the American income distribution, that’s a pretty good deal. For Bill Gates, it’s a steal.
The only thing giving relevance to the inclusion of tiny principalities and city-states is that tide of history is definitely moving in their direction (away from superstates like the United States and EU).