The 10 richest men in the world have seen their global wealth double to $1.5 trillion since the start of the global pandemic following a surge in share and property prices that has widened the gap between rich and poor, according to a report from Oxfam.
Urging governments to impose a one-off 99 per cent wealth tax on Covid-19 windfall gains, the charity said World Bank figures showed 163 million more people had been driven below the poverty line while the super rich were benefiting from the stimulus provided by governments around the world to mitigate the impact of the virus, the report said.
Oxfam projects that by 2030, 3.3 billion people will be living on less than $5.50 per day. The charity said the incomes of 99 per cent of the world’s population had reduced from March 2020 to October 2021, when Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla, and the other nine richest billionaires had been collectively growing wealthier by $1.3 billion a day.
Electric carmaker Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk witnessed a 10-fold rise in his wealth in the first 20 months of the pandemic from $24.6 billion in March 2020, according to figures from Forbes magazine. His current net wealth stands at $294.2 billion. Musk has been on a share sale spree in his electric car company since November 8, partly to pay a massive tax bill that is expected to be about $11 billion. Meanwhile, Tesla began the year with a bang on the back of record quarterly deliveries that exceeded Wall Street estimates and a rise in production, overcoming the chip shortage.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s net wealth soared 67 percent to $202.6 billion in the 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic from $113 billion in March 2020. In July 2021, Amazon’s shares witnessed a strong rally after the Pentagon cancelled a cloud-computing contract with rival Microsoft. Stocks rallied on the expectation that Pentagon would split the work between Microsoft and rival Amazon.
Bernard Arnault and family
The Bernard Arnault family has an empire of 70 brands, including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. The family saw their wealth grow 130 percent to $187.7 billion from $76 billion in March 2020.
Compared to the exponential rise in fortunes of the other nine, Microsoft founder Bill Gates saw his wealth grow by a modest 31 percent from about $98 billion at the start of the pandemic to $137.4 billion after 20 months.
Co-founder and former CEO of Oracle Corporation Larry Ellison saw his wealth grow 99 percent from $59 billion in March 2020 to $125.7 billion at present.
Google co-founder Larry Page’s net wealth soared to $122.8 billion, up 125 percent from $50.9 billion almost two years ago.
The other co-founder of Google was worth $49.1 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now become $118.3 billion in 20 months.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, formerly known as Facebook, saw his wealth double to almost $118 billion from $54.7 billion earlier. Meta, in which Zuckerberg has a 13 percent stake, has grown in value by over 20 percent in 2021.
Former CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer saw his net wealth grow 85 percent during the pandemic from $52.7 billion in March 2020 to $104.4 billion now.
Legendary investor Warren Buffett saw his wealth soar by a modest 40 percent to $101.5 billion from $67.5 billion before the pandemic.
During a period when technology stocks were soaring on Wall Street, Bezos’s net wealth rose 67 per cent to $203 billion, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth doubled to $118 billion, while the wealth of the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, increased by 31 per cent to $137 billion.
While people on more modest incomes have also seen their assets rise in value during the pandemic, Oxfam said the 10 richest men own six times as much wealth as the bottom 40 per cent (3.1 billion people). It would take the 10 billionaires 414 years to spend their combined wealth at a rate of a million dollars each per day, the charity added, the report said.