The world's wealthiest people have taken a huge hit today as plunging global markets chopped billions off their fortunes.

According to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, the 500 wealthiest people lost a combined US$99 billion ($153.2b) – the year's second-steepest-one-day drop.

Amazon founder, and world's richest man, Jeff Bezos suffered the biggest loss of anyone on the index.

Bezos lost US$9.1b ($14b) as shares in the e-commerce giant fell by more than 6 per cent, the most in more than two years.

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It's not all bad for Bezos though; his net worth of US$145.2b is still almost US$50b higher than that of the world's second richest man, Bill Gates, and US$46.2b ahead of his net worth this time last year.

Europe's wealthiest person, Bernard Arnault, was the next highest causality of the global market plunge.

The French business magnate's net worth tumbled US$4.5b to US$66.9b as shares in his luxury empire LVMH fell by more than 7 per cent.

Berkshire Hathaway chief executive Warren Buffett was among the biggest losers in percentage terms. His net worth dropped US$4.5b, or 4.9 per cent, to US$87.5b.

In all, 17 people lost more than US$1b.

The decline in fortunes comes after the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 600 points in afternoon trading.

The New Zealand stock market was quick to follow. At the time of writing, the S&P/NZX50 was down 2.7 per cent today falling 242 points to 8806.