What should good societies do when a minority of the wealthy reap huge financial gains in a global pandemic?
As millions of people lost their lives, their livelihoods, their health and their wealth, the world’s billionaires and super-rich have thrived. According to a study by Americans for TaxFairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, between March 18, 2020 and February 19, 2021, the combined wealth of American billionaires increased by $ 1.3 billion, an increase of 44.6% in just 48 weeks.
The concentration of wealth is astounding. There is now 661 billionaires in the United States, with total wealth of $ 4.26 billion as of February 19, 2021, up from $ 2.9 billion on March 18, 2020, almost a year earlier. As a perspective, the combined wealth of the bottom half of all U.S. households, 165 million people, is 2.4 USDtrn, according to the Federal Reserve.
Elon Musk’s wealth increased by $ 157 billion, from $ 24.6 billion on March 18, 2020 to $ 182 billion on February 19, 2021, a nearly seven-fold increase, spurred by the rapid increase of the value of the Tesla share.
Jeff Bezos’ wealth grew from $ 113 billion to $ 189 billion in the same period, an increase of almost 60%.
Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth has grown from $ 54.7 billion to $ 95.7 billion, fueled by his ownership of Facebook.
Dan Gilbert, chairman of Quicken Loans, saw his fortune skyrocket 559%, from $ 6.5 billion in March 2020 to $ 42.8 billion on February 19, 2021.