Jeff Bezos could hand a $105,000 bonus to every single Amazon worker and still be as rich as he was at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the year to date, Bezos has added $67.2 billion to his net worth – spurred by e-commerce behemoth Amazon enjoying the largest increase in value among the world’s 100 top global brands during the pandemic, as shoppers increasingly migrate online.
Bezos remains the world’s richest man, with a total net worth of $182 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, $35 billion ahead of Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla.
Now Progressive International, a global left-wing campaign group, has revealed that he could afford to pay all of Amazon’s employees – of which there are over a million across the US – a $105,000 grant, and still be as wealthy as he was before Covid-19 struck.
Rich get richer
Earlier this year, TLE revealed that the world’s ten richest men have added more than $132 billion to their combined net worth this year, despite the devastating impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global economy.
The unemployment rate in the US – which has over 600 billionaires, more than any other country – reached 16 per cent in May, with nine million Americans out of work in the country’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
In the UK, despite initial hopes that the economy would witness a ‘V-shaped’ recovery, some forecasters estimate that it will not return to its pre-crisis size until 2024 at the earliest.
Rebecca Gowland, Oxfam Head of Inequality Campaign and Policy said: “The fact that the world’s richest billionaires are massively increasing their wealth at a time when millions are facing hardship, is evidence of a broken economy.
“It is unconscionable that a handful of super-rich men are stockpiling wealth while millions of people around the world are losing their jobs, struggling to put food on the table and are living in fear of destitution.”
The situation is especially stark in countries where inequality is most pronounced. The richest person in India, Mukesh Ambani – the world’s fifth richest man – has become $18.8bn richer this year.
Ambani – who control’s 42 per cent of Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, owner of the world’s biggest oil refining complex – is comfortably the wealthiest person in India, which has recorded more than 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus infections and over 32,000 deaths.
According to Oxfam, the top 10 per cent of the Indian population holds 77 per cent of the total national wealth, and 73 per cent of the wealth generated in the country in 2017 went to the richest 1 per cent. Meanwhile 67 million Indians comprising the poorest half of the population enjoyed an increase of just 1 per cent in their wealth the same year.
Forecasters predict that India’s gross domestic product could contract by as much as 9.5 per cent by the end of the year. Lay-offs in the country are increasing quickly, and will probably accelerate at the end of August, when a bank moratorium on debt repayments expires.
“Extreme inequality was already trapping millions of people around the world in poverty and now half a billion more people could be pushed into poverty due to the pandemic,” Gowland said.