While U.S. unemployment rates soared to all-time highs during the coronavirus crisis, six months of a global pandemic has seen billionaires grow their collective fortunes by over 27.5 percent to a record high of $ 10.2 trillion. The previous record was set at $8.9 trillion in 2017.
What’s more, the number of global billionaires hit a new high of 2,189, up from 2,158 in 2017. A report by Swiss bank UBS that’s cited by The Guardian found that the world’s richest benefitted from betting on the recovery of global stock markets at low points during March and April.
Josef Stadler, the head of UBS’s global family office department, said: “Billionaires did extremely well during the Covid crisis, not only [did] they ride the storm to the downside, but also gained up on the upside [as stock markets rebounded].” He added that they had “the stomach” to buy company shares during crashes and wait for rebounds.
The USB didn’t report on how individual fortunes changed during the pandemic. But the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which tracks and ranks the world’s 500 richest people, has. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has seen his fortune grow a whopping $73.6 billion this year, with his total net worth now reading $189 billion. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has seen his year-to-date financial period swell the most by $75.5 billion, putting his net worth at $103 billion. Bezos’ ex-wife and author Mackenzie Scott, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan are all among those Americans who’ve made in excess of $19 billion.
However, UBS said many billionaires had donated some of their wealth to help with the fight against Covid-19 and the financial impact of lockdowns on families.
“Our research has identified 209 billionaires who have publicly committed a total equivalent to $7.2bn from March to June 2020,” the report said. “They have reacted quickly, in a way that’s akin to disaster relief, providing unrestricted grants to allow grantees to decide how best to use funds.”