The richest people in the United States have become $845 billion wealthier during the first six months of the pandemic, with likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett all registering big increases, a report said Thursday.
The Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning think-tank, and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) said the total net worth of 643 of the nation’s richest people rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion between March 18 and September 15. The calculations are based on data using Forbes’ annual billionaires report and real-time Forbes data.
That marks a 29% increase from the rough date at which coronavirus lockdowns started and financial markets went into free-fall. The stock market has since recovered, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting record highs, but Covid-19 has allegedly killed nearly 200,000 Americans and the economy is still mired in recession.
Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality, said: “The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. Clearly, the priorities of our elected officials in Washington, DC are completely upside down.”
Bezos, the chief executive of leading online retailer Amazon, has undoubtedly been the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic. His wealth rose by $73.2 billion to $113 billion. Amazon shares have gained 40% this year, as the company racked up billions in online orders for anything from groceries to exercise bikes from consumers who were confined to their homes.
Musk, the founder and CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, is a close second. His wealth has ballooned by $67.4 billion, or 274%. Tesla has been one of the top performing blue-chip stocks this year and, after gaining nearly 90% in value over the last 12 months.
Markets have benefited from a period of rock-bottom interest rates as the Fed poured stimulus worth trillions to help the economy ride out the pandemic.
The S&P 500 for example has risen by 34% since touching multi-year lows in March.