World’s richest people added $1.8T to their combined wealth in 2020
The world’s 500 richest people added approximately $1.8 trillion to their combined wealth in 2020, bringing them to a total net worth of $7.6 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Bloomberg noted that the 31 percent increase, which came even amid the economic crisis spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, is the largest annual gain in the index’s eight-year history.
The growth mainly reached those at the very top, where five people now each hold more than $100 billion, with another 20 individuals each worth at least $50 billion.
At the top of Bloomberg’s index is Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos with approximately $190 billion. The tech company profited highly amid the pandemic as lockdowns and health restrictions forced more people to turn to online shopping.
Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk saw the greatest wealth increase in 2020, which Bloomberg reported was potentially the fastest wealth creation in history.
Now worth $170 billion, Musk first surpassed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for the title of second-richest person in the world in November.
Musk’s increase in wealth was largely driven by Tesla, which as of Saturday has a market value of nearly $670 billion. About three-fourths of Musk’s net worth is made up of Tesla shares.
Bloomberg reported that, combined, Bezos and Musk had an increase in wealth of about $217 billion in 12 months, which is roughly enough to send $2,000 checks to more than 100 million Americans.
The Tesla founder’s ascent was just the second time in the index’s history that Gates was not considered one of the two richest people in the world.
Gates now takes the third spot with a total net worth of about $132 billion, while Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, holds fourth place with $114 billion.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the fifth-richest person in the world with a net worth of about $104 billion.
According to Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, the growth for the world’s top billionaires “hits a painful nerve for the millions of people who have lost loved ones and experienced declines in their health, wealth and livelihoods.”
“Worse, it undermines any sense that we are ‘in this together’ — the solidarity required to weather the difficult months ahead,” Collins told Bloomberg.
As of Saturday, more than 84 million people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, with more than 1.8 million deaths as a result of the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.