U.S. billionaires fortunes have skyrocketed $845bn since March - Report
While millions of Americans are now earning less than they were before the COVID-19 crisis, American billionaires like Bill Gate, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg have seen their fortunes skyrocket over the past six months, a report on CNN Business says.
According to a report on wealth inequality from the Institute for Policy Studies, 643 wealthiest Americans have raked in a massive sum of $845 billion in combined assets between March 18 and September 15 thus, growing their combined wealth by 29%.
The report notes that the rapid wealth increase has translated to an increased total net worth among the nations wealthiest from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion.
Those listed among the highest earners include the CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, CEO of Oracle, Larry Ellison and the former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased gap between richest and average
This study was based on individuals' net worth data as tracked by Forbes.
Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and co-author of the report speaking to CNN, said he was surprised to learn that the COVID-19 crisis is "supercharging America's existing inequalities".
"I would have thought maybe six months into this, that things would have shaken out - that everybody would take a hit.
CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest man in the world with a net worth of $200 billion
"The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. It sort of dramatises the unequal sacrifice and profiteering element of the wealth accumulation at the top", Collins said.
The pandemic had an opposite (negative) effect on the average American
Collins did note that the COVID-19 crisis, on the other hand, had an opposite effect on the average American worker.
The pandemic triggered the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression. Unemployment rate had hit 14.7% in April before rebounding to 8.4% in August.
However, America is still down 11.5 million jobs since February. Even though the claims of unemployment have reduced, it remains more than four times higher than the pre-pandemic level".
Increase in the billionaire's assets is mostly tied to company fortunes
Amazon stock is up by more than 60% this year. The result of this is that the net worth of CEO Jeff Bezos, who has his personal wealth tied to Amazon stock increased by $55.2 billion since February 8, according to IPS.
With a net worth of $200 billion, Jeff Bezos is the world's wealthiest person.
The combined net worth of Jim, Alice and Rob Walton, whose family founded Walmart grew by more than $60 billion within the past six months as the retail company's profit increased nearly 80% year over year to $6.4 billion in the second quarter of 2020.
Another name worth mentioning is Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, who had his fortune increase by about $70 billion during the same period thus, making him the third richest person in the world, according to a report on CNN Business news.
Also, Google co-founder, Larry Page's assets have grown by more than $18 billion since February 2020.
Six months into the pandemic, Collins expressed his surprise at how uneven the economic burden has been on the poor and middle class vs the wealthy when compared to the Great Recession.
He said the Congress would have to fix that which is broken with policy solutions that support working Americans instead of the investment class. He said if not checked, the wealth concentration will transform America in ways that cannot be amended.
"A few people are going to have an extreme amount of power to shape the economy, politics, the media.
None of us are going to want to live in a society like that, where your Main Street no longer has 100 shops. It just has an Amazon loading depot", Collins said.
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