I’ve been reading about Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York. He is worth $25 billion! Blimey. Nice to see that he declined his salary and takes a notional dollar in payment. He made his cash in financial information. He has just given Johns Hopkins University a multi million dollar gift which takes the total he has donated to his alma mater over $1 billion. Incredible isn’t it? Bill Gates had already given away $28 billion by 2007 and says he will give away 95 per cent of his fortune, so it looks like he’ll be donating many more billions over the years, given he’s only 57. Philanthropy is big here and goes back a long way. There’s Andrew Carnegie, born in Scotland in the 19th Century, but who spent most of his life in the US, who gave away $350 million by the time he died in 1919, that’s $4.7 billion in today’s money. He gave loads to UK libraries, including a dozen built in London. Other big names include the Mellon family, the Rockefellers (not just for Christmas!) and Stanford. Most of their wealth seems to have gone to higher education and it’s no coincidence that universities here have massive endowments built up over centuries. The Mayor is up for re election later this year and it’s unlikely that Bloomberg would be able to run for a fourth time having changed the laws last time so that he could have a third go. I doubt the new Mayor will have quite so much cash, but you never know!