US billionaires see wealth soar by $845bn during coronavirus crisis

Despite economic downturn, country’s richest see significant gains 

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 07 October 2020 12:49
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In an apparent pandemic boost, America’s billionaires have seen their collective wealth rise by $845 billion (£650 billion) since March.  

As millions of Americans lost earnings amid the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s billionaires saw their combined wealth increase by almost 30 per cent, according to The Institute for Policy Studies' (IPS) study.

The wealth inequality report analysed America’s 643 wealthiest individuals, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Chuck Collins, who directs the IPS Program on Inequality and co-authored the report, told CNN he was shocked at the results.

"I would have thought maybe six months into this that things would have shaken out — that everybody would take a hit,” he said. The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation.”

“It sort of dramatizes the unequal sacrifice and profiteering element of the wealth accumulation at the top."

Mr Collins added that the coronavirus crisis, which has claimed almost 200,000 American lives, was to blame for "supercharging America's existing inequalities”.

Whilst unemployment claims have decreased in recent months, current levels are around four times higher than before the pandemic, with some 11.5 million jobs lost since February.

Meanwhile, companies such as Amazon have been able to ride-out the pandemic, with CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal wealth having increased by $55.2 billion (£42 billion) since 8 February, according to IPS

Mr Bezos, whose reported total net worth stands at $200 billion (£153 billion), is the world's wealthiest person.

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