Billionaires Rake in the Big Bucks While Regular Americans Suffer from an Economic Downturn
According to Bloomberg Quint, billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates are striking it rich during the current Wuhan virus pandemic.
In the case of the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos witnessed his net worth skyrocket by $63.6 billion in 2020. His net worth grew by a mind-blowing $13 billion in just one day in July. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos is on the verge of reaching a $200 billion net worth.
Similarly, Zuckerberg has grown $9.1 billion richer in 2020. Ben Steverman and Sophie Alexander noted that Zuckerberg’s fortune is “within reach of the centibillionaire status already held by Bezos and Bill Gates.”
“We moved the brick-and-mortar economy to an online economy dramatically,” said Luigi Zingales, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “Probably the same thing would have happened in a longer period of time. Now it’s happening in weeks instead of years.”
The total wealth of tech billionaires in Bloomberg’s index, which ranks the world’s 500 richest people, has almost doubled since 2016, from $751 billion to $1.4 trillion in 2020. This represents a faster growth rate than every other sector.
The majority of the seven of the world’s 10 wealthiest individuals’ fortune comes from technology holdings. These individuals have a combined net worth of $666 billion, which represents a $147 billion increase in 2020.
Elon Musk also had a big 2020, with his net worth more than doubling to $69.7 billion after Tesla Inc shares recently soared.
Big Tech companies exercise tremendous economic power and have drawn comparisons to the trusts of the Gilded Age which also gobbled up a large portion of market share.
As of 2020, five of America’s most prominent tech companies — Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, and Microsoft — have market valuations that make up 30 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. This figure is nearly double what it was at the end of 2018.
Such concentrations of wealth have spurred criticism from politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders who are now pushing for radical wealth taxes to address perceived inequalities. If passed, this measure would build off the current income tax regime and create another layer of taxation.
Policymakers can address this issue by investigating the ways these companies potentially game government privileges to secure their place in the markets and also consider policies that actually deregulate the economy and make it easier for smaller players to enter the market.