Ten of the richest men in the world have boosted their enormous wealth by more than $400 billion – close to £300bn – since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Their businesses boosted by lockdowns and financial trauma across the world, the extra wealth of the ten men – approximately $450bn, according to Forbes figures – have accumulated more wealth in the last nine months than the money the British government has spent on tackling the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a report by US campaign group Americans for Tax Fairness estimates that the collective wealth of the country’s 651 billionaires has risen by $1.1 trillion over the same period.
Bezos, Musk, Arnault
“Their pandemic profits are so immense that America’s billionaires could pay for a major Covid relief bill and still not lose a dime of their pre-virus riches,” Frank Clemente of Americans for Tax Fairness said.
“Their wealth growth is so great that they alone could provide a $3,000 stimulus payment to every man, woman and child in the country, and still be richer than they were nine months ago.”
Jeff Bezos – the founder of Amazon – has seen his personal wealth soar by $70bn since March – taking the world’s richest man to a net worth of £185bn as millions of locked down people turned to the online delivery giant.
Other super-rich individuals who have reaped the rewards during the crisis include Tesla founder Elon Musk; Bernard Arnault, the French billionaire; Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; and Larry Page of Google.
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.
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 huge grant, and still be as wealthy as he was before Covid-19 struck.
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.”
‘Not fit for purpose’
Ana Arendar, the head of Oxfam’s inequality campaign, said it “proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the global economic system is not fit for purpose.
“Allowing the wealth of a tiny few to explode while hundreds of millions suffer is nothing short of a dereliction of duty,” she added.
“Extreme poverty is rising for the first time in a decade and hundreds of millions of people face dire hardship; in many cases failing into debt, skipping meals and being forced into destitution.
“Governments need to stop pandering to the richest. A wealth tax would barely make a difference to the fortunes of the richest but could provide a lifeline for those hit hardest by the pandemic.”
Last week Mackenzie Scott, the Amazon chief’s ex-wife, revealed she has given away $4bn to charitable causes in the last four months – and $6bn in total since the pandemic began. Scott has a fortune of more than $50bn after her divorce settlement with Bezos.