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.
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