The Wealthy Pack Becomes Richer during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the wealth of billionaires worldwide increased by 27.5 percent, reaching $10.2 trillion.

According to the report prepared by the Swiss bank UBS, this wealth rose from 8.9 trillion dollars at end-2017 to 10.2 trillion dollars in the period from April to July 2020. The number of billionaires increased from 2,158 in 2017 to 2,189.

Technology, healthcare, and the overall manufacturing industry saw immense wealth growth. The wealth of billionaires in these sectors increased by 36-44%.

Josef Stadler, head of the UBS global family office, said the super-rich took advantage of the crisis, "showing the courage" to buy more corporate stocks as the world's stock markets collapsed. As these markets started to recover and compensated for losses, the shares of technology companies owned by billionaires also increased significantly.

Stadler stated that billionaires have a "risk appetite" and do not see any problem investing some of their wealth in these areas and taking risks.

The indicator that capitalism is not functioning properly

"Excessive wealth concentration is a morally ugly phenomenon, but it has devastating economic and social effects," said Luke Hilyard, director of the High Pay Center think tank, known for his work on high wages paid to corporate executives. "The UBS report showing that the super-rich is getting richer is an indication that capitalism is not functioning properly," Hilyard said.

Stadler said that when hundreds of millions of people suffer across the world, the increase in billionaires' wealth could cause public outrage. Stadler had previously warned that this massive inequality between the rich and the poor posed the threat of global rebellion.

Elon Musk, the billionaire with the highest fortune growth

The UBS report did not include the wealth ranking of billionaires. However, the wealth of Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, founder and CEO of Amazon, is known to reach $189 billion. According to Bloomberg's billionaires index, Bezos' wealth has increased by $74 billion this year. Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla, was the billionaire with the highest fortune growth this year, with $76 billion. Musk's fortune rose to $103 billion.

Few women are on the list of billionaires, including cosmetics company owner Kylie Jenner. UBS reported that 209 billionaires pledged $7.2 billion in donations to combat Covid-19 and its economic effects during March-June.

This USA Today news story dated December 2020 provides an update about the further growth in the fortunes of wealthy people with Bezos' hoarded gains exceeding $200 billion.