Until now, the best way to keep tabs on the world’s wealthiest people was probably Forbes magazine’s yearly ranking of the world’s billionaires.

But for those among us who want a more real-time assessment of how the captains of industry are faring, Bloomberg has launched a new feature it has dubbed the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Each day at 5:30 p.m., the index will measure the net worth of the richest people on the planet, taking into account action in the stock market, economic indicators and news reports.

The rankings launched Sunday night with Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim edging out philanthropist Bill Gates for the top spot. Their net worths were estimated at $68.5 billion and $62.4 billion. A somewhat distant third was Berkshire Hathaway executive Warren Buffett.

One thing that is especially striking when looking at the index is the daily change that each person’s fortune has undergone. For example, Slim’s daily net worth change is listed as a loss of $478 million, and Gates’s a loss of $102 million. It’s somewhat mind-boggling that anyone could be so rich that they lose that much money in a day and have it make so little impact on their net worth.

It’ll be interesting to follow the index in coming months and years to see how the rankings shift. Will Brazilian oil and mining executive Eike Batista be able to achieve his stated goal of eclipsing Slim’s wealth? Will 27-year-old Mark Zuckerberg vault onto the list after Facebook’s much-hyped initial public offering?

There’s one person who will never crack the list, no matter how much his already massive fortune grows. Bloomberg says it will not consider New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) for its list because of his ties to the company.

A full description of Bloomberg’s methodology for the index is available here.

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