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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 ZuckerbergFacebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra changes names Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff 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 BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund 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-CortezObama: You lose people with 'snappy' slogans like 'defund the police' The left's turn against freedom: Curb speech, ban books, make an 'enemies list' Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' MORE (D-N.Y.) called for people to "tax the rich" as Democrats argued over Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: McConnell offering new coronavirus relief bill | Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on relief | Rare Mnuchin-Powell spat takes center stage at COVID-19 hearing Biden introduces economic team, vows swift action on struggling economy Louisville mayor declares racism a public health crisis 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 SandersDeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump Manchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' 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."