TOne of the richest people in the world has increased his already enormous wealth by more than $ 400 billion (£ 296 billion) since the coronavirus pandemic began, as his businesses were fueled by closures and financial crises in all the world.
The additional wealth accumulated by the 10 men – roughly $ 450 billion, using Forbes figures – over the past nine months is more than the £ 284 billion the British government is estimated to have spent to address the pandemic and the economic damage it caused. has caused in its 66 one million people.
In a related report, the campaign group Americans for Tax Fairness estimates the collective wealth of America’s 651 billionaires has risen by $ 1.1 trillion during the same period. Frank Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness said:
“Their pandemic profits are so immense that America’s billionaires could pay a hefty Covid aid bill and still not lose a penny of their pre-virus riches. The growth of their wealth is so great that only they could provide a stimulus payment of $ 3,000 to all the men, women and children of the country, and remain richer than they were nine months ago. “
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has seen his wealth skyrocket by $ 70 billion since March to a record $ 185 billion, as hundreds of millions of people trapped at home turned to the delivery giant in line to feed and entertain.
Other members of the super-wealthy elite who have seen huge economic benefits during the crisis include: Elon Musk, the nonconformist founder of Tesla; Bernard Arnault, the French billionaire who owns the majority of LVMH’s portfolio of luxury brands; Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; and Larry Page from Google.
Ana Arendar, head of Oxfam’s anti-inequality campaign, said that the fact that the richest of the rich made so much money during the coronavirus pandemic “proves beyond any doubt that the global economic system is not suitable for its purpose ”.
“Allowing the wealth of a few to explode while hundreds of millions suffer is nothing short of an abandonment of duty,” he said of the inaction of global governments to increase inequality.
“Extreme poverty is increasing for the first time in a decade and hundreds of millions of people are facing dire hardship; in many cases, going into debt, skipping meals and being forced into poverty, “said Arendar. “Governments must stop pleasing the richest. A wealth tax would make little difference to the fortunes of the wealthiest, but could provide a lifeline for those hardest hit by the pandemic. “
While many small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, Amazon shares have risen by 90% since March.
Bezos, who founded Amazon out of his garage in 1994, still owns 11% of the company’s stock, as well as the space travel company Blue Origin and the Washington Post. During the pandemic, his wealth grew 66%.
Last week, his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott, revealed that he had donated $ 4 billion to good causes in the past four months, taking his donations since the pandemic began to nearly $ 6 billion. Scott is worth more than $ 50bn (£ 37bn) after his divorce deal with Bezos last year and has vowed to give away much of his wealth. She said that Covid-19 had “been a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans who were already fighting … [but had] it substantially increased the wealth of billionaires. “
But the Amazon founder’s earnings pale in comparison to those of Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of the electric car company Tesla.
Musk’s fortune soared to $ 153 billion, up from $ 25 billion in March, as investors bet the pandemic would prompt governments to accelerate the shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. Musk, 49, owns 20% of Tesla and is now the world’s second-richest person, up from 35th on the global billionaire rankings in January.
Tesla shares have increased nearly sevenfold since March, as investors bet the company would be a clear leader in an electric future. Starting Monday, the firm will be included in the top-line S&P 500 index, news that has sparked a further surge in demand for stocks in recent weeks.
Bernard Arnault, the richest person in Europe, has seen his fortune double since the pandemic began, as demand for luxury brands at his LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton stable rebounded. Arnault’s wealth increased from $ 69 billion in March to $ 148 billion, to make him the third richest person on the planet.
Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist and the fourth richest person, has an estimated fortune of $ 120 billion. Gates’ wealth has increased by about $ 20 billion since March. During the same period, it has committed billions to the development of coronavirus vaccines and healthcare projects related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Luke Hildyard, executive director of the High Pay Center, a think tank that focuses on overpayment, said: “People may not appreciate the vast amount of multi-million dollar wealth. To give you some perspective, just the increase in net worth of these 10 people in the last 10 months is more than the estimated amount the UK government has spent this year fighting the economic and health consequences of the coronavirus in name of 66 million. people.”
The other billionaires who have significantly increased their fortunes since the pandemic began are Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his wealth increase by about 80% to $ 100 billion, investor Warren Buffett, whose fortune increased by 26% to $ 100 billion. 85 billion, and Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, whose wealth increased by 50% to $ 88 billion. Google’s Larry Page halved his wealth to $ 76 billion, his co-founder Sergey Brin saw a similar increase to $ 74 billion, and Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex, saw his fortune rise 47% to $ 75 billion.
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