World's richest 500 people saw their wealth jump 25 percent in 2019

World's richest 500 people saw their wealth jump 25 percent in 2019
© Greg Nash

In 2019, the world's richest 500 people saw their collective net worth jump by 25 percent or $1.2 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index published Friday.

Combined, the collective net worth of the world's 500 wealthiest individuals totaled $5.9 trillion. American billionaires alone added $500 billion to their wealth, with Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach As misinformation surges, coronavirus poses AI challenge Zuckerberg, Gates team up to contribute M for research into coronavirus treatments MORE gaining $27.3 billion and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates adding $22.7 billion.

According to Bloomberg, just 52 people on the list saw their fortunes decline in 2019. One of those billionaires is Amazon's Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosJeff Bezos gives 0M to Feeding America amid coronavirus pandemic Fired Amazon striker demands Bezos protect workers in open letter Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks MORE, whose worth dropped by $9 billion, though Bloomberg notes the decline is largely due to his divorce settlement, and Bezos still ends 2019 as the world's richest person.

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The new report comes as wealth disparity remains a hot topic in the election and a growing source of frustration for many.

A report earlier this year found that income inequality in the United States is at its highest point since data started being collected more than 50 years ago. Another report from this year found that the poorest Americans saw their income decline 7 percent over the past 15 years, while everyone else gained financially.
Progressive lawmakers have recently called for tougher tax policies for the ultra-rich; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.) called for people to "tax the rich" as Democrats argued over Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill Democratic senators want probe into change of national stockpile description Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus MORE's (D-Mass.) tax proposal at a primary debate in October.

Warren has made a wealth tax a centerpiece of her campaign. The proposal calls for imposing a 2 percent tax on the wealth of people with more than $50 million in assets, while those with assets more than $1 billion would face a 3 percent tax.  

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Oil giants meet with Trump at White House | Interior extends tenure of controversial land management chief | Oil prices tick up on hopes of Russia-Saudi deal Oil giants meet at White House amid talk of buying strategic reserves The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight MORE (I-Vt.) has long fought against income inequality, writing in an op-ed in 2014 that it is "the issue of our time."

“We make no apologies in stating that the great moral, economic and political issue of our time is the growing level of income and wealth inequality in our nation,” Sanders wrote.

The increase in billionaires' wealth also comes in the first full year since the passage of the Republican tax law.

A report by the Congressional Research Service in May of this year said the tax law's effect was smaller on the economy than many forecasters had predicted and growth was not consistent "with the direction and size of the supply-side incentive effects one would expect from the tax changes."