America’s billionaires are getting even richer since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

America's billionaires are getting even richer since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic

Your net worth is increasing at a time when millions and millions of people are losing their jobs. American billionaires have become rich on the order of 280 billion since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic .

In the same month that 22 million Americans lost their jobs, the total wealth of the American billionaire class has increased by about 10%.

Increase in equity

The initial stock market crash may have hit some net assets early on, for example, Jeff Bezos’s . But his wealth has rebounded: As of April 15, his net worth has increased by $ 25 billion. Eric Yuan, founder and CEO of Zoom, was one of the few to see his net worth rise even as markets crashed.

These ‘pandemic speculators’, as a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, calls them, are just one piece of the wealth inequality puzzle in America. At the bottom is the fact that since 1980, the taxes paid by billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, have fallen 79%.

As explained by Chuck Collins , director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and co author of the new report that reflects these data:

We are reading about benevolent billionaires who share 0.1% of their wealth with their peers in this crisis, but have in fact been manipulating the tax rules to lower their taxes for decades, money that could have been spent to build a better country.

Another key finding of the report is that after the 2008 financial crisis, it took less than 30 months for billionaire wealth to return to its pre-crash levels . That wealth quickly surpassed pre-2008 levels. But as of 2019, America’s middle class has yet to rebound to its 2007 net worth level.

Some billionaires have made large donations during the pandemic, but Collins says we cannot allow such philanthropy to distract from the general analysis of inequality:

Philanthropy is not really a substitute for a fair tax system and a properly funded public safety net.