The pandemic saw the rich get richer, including a 30% surge in billionaires

by Peter Heck · Apr 12th, 2021 10:15 am

Last Updated Apr 13th, 2021 at 9:34 am

While 2020 may have been a challenging year for many, the incredibly wealthy saw their financial situation improve dramatically, according to Forbes.

The number of billionaires grew nearly 30% last year, increasing the total number from 2,095 to 2,755. Of those previous billionaires who remained part of the exclusive club, seven out of eight were wealthier now than before the pandemic began.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, came in at number one for the fourth year in a row, followed by Tesla's Elon Musk.

Bezos saw his company expand dramatically as a result of the pandemic. With small business competitors closed, the online retail giant grabbed upwards of 42% of all e-commerce that was conducted during the year-long frenzy of online shopping.

Economist Gabriel Zucman from the University of California at Berkeley sees the model of wealth expansion at the top as unsustainable.

"In the United States, the top 400 wealthiest Americans now own the equivalent 18% of GDP in wealth, twice as much as in 2010 (9% of GDP)," he said. "The pandemic has reinforced this trend, with a boom in top-end wealth despite the decline in economic activity. This trend is unlikely to be sustainable: with growing wealth concentration comes a growing concentration of economic and political power in a few hands — a dangerous evolution that governments would be wise to address."


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