The Pandemic Has Benefited One Group Of People: Billionaires

Other than Netflix, Andrew Cuomo and the virus itself, no one has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic more than American billionaires.

Over the last six months, roughly 3 out of 4 members of America’s 10-digit-wealth club have seen a rise in their net worths. Sixteen American billionaires are worth at least twice as much now as they were in March. And Jeff Bezos, who was already worth $113 billion at the start of 2020, is heading into the year’s final stretch $73 billion richer.

Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch are both up by $7 billion, and Mark Zuckerberg has added another $46 billion to his already staggering $54 billion in wealth. Elon Musk found time between COVID truther tweets and CPAP machine donations to take his fortune from $25 billion to $92 billion.

Some billionaires have gotten richer as a direct result of the pandemic. Amazon, for example, was one of the few companies in the United States to expand as consumers locked down at home and avoided brick-and-mortar retail. Facebook, Google, Tesla and Microsoft have also boomed in the past six months, adding to the fortunes of their respective billionaire founders.


See how much Jeff Bezos has made during the pandemic in 3D. On desktop, use your mouse to zoom and rotate the object in 3D; on mobile, place the object in your space, use your fingers to resize and rotate in augmented reality.

Most billionaires, however, have grown their wealth not as business leaders but as investors. One of the ongoing mysteries of the COVID-19 recession is why it has — so far at least — barely touched the stock market. After falling roughly 35% in February, both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 returned to pre-pandemic levels in just 126 trading days, a turnaround that

Asia Pacific is home to most billionaires globally, pandemic grows wealth

There are now 2,189 billionaires globally with a combined wealth of $10.2 trillion, as the pandemic-induced stock market rally catapulted the net worth of the world’s uber wealthy to a new high. 

As of July 2020, Asia-Pacific accounted for the highest number of ultra-high net worth individuals, with 831 (38%) of the super rich residing in the region, where billionaire wealth now totals $3.3 trillion, according to Swiss bank UBS’ new Billionaires Insights Report 2020. That compares to 762 (35%) across the Americas and 596 (27%) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). 

The findings, based on interviews and data from 2,000 billionaires across 43 markets, saw Asia-Pacific retain its global position as “the engine of wealth growth,” UBS Global Wealth Management’s Anurag Mahesh said at the report’s launch Wednesday.  

Mainland China emerged as the region’s top market for wealth creation, with 415 billionaires, followed by India (114), Hong King (65) Taiwan (40) and Australia (39). The U.S. is home to 636 billionaires, the study found.

Wealth generators

Much of the billionaire wealth growth seen this year was closely correlated to the market recovery staged since April’s dramatic sell-off, since the assets of the ultra wealthy are typically tied up in the public companies they run or invest in. 

However, from 2019 to the peak of the downturn in April 2020, Asian billionaire wealth emerged relatively unscathed, dropping 2.1% compared to 10.1% in EMEA and 7.4% in the Americas.

Manesh, Asia-Pacific co-head of UBS’s Global Family Office, said they could be partly related to the region’s dominance in two key  industries — technology and health care — which have surged in the wake of the pandemic.

Asia-Pacific is home to the world’s highest share of tech and health-care billionaires, accounting for 181 (8%) of the total billionaire population, compared

Halsey and Bernie Sanders Sit Down to Discuss the Wealth Tax and Billionaires

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Way back on Sept. 30 — which may as well be eons ago but in reality was the day after the first presidential debate — Halsey sat down with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for the first in what she bills as an “intimate conversation to discuss the future of America, some of the most important issues facing our nation and why they’ll be voting for Joe Biden this November.”

In the chat that was titled “Greed & the Wealth Tax,” the debate (Halsey says is “arguably one of the most frustrating pieces of television that I’ve ever had the misfortune of witnessing”) and Halsey’s upbringings in a “lower class family.”

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One of the most compelling parts of the conversation was when the two discussed the “preposterous concept” of billionaires.

As for being a member of the “1%” due to her success as an artist, Halsey told Sanders: “Having that sort of shift in perspective, given the ability to kind of see things from both sides, there’s one thing that I know for a fact: it’s that, for me personally, there is no amount of money that I think is worth personally contributing to the alienation, the disenfranchisement of millions – hundreds of millions of people across this country – which is why, despite being in the 1%, I support the wealth tax.” She also said that people who oppose the wealth tax is because of greed.

Watch the full conversation between the two below.

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