Thursday October 08, 2020 GMT+1
“I didn’t think I’d regret trying and failing. And I suspected I would always be haunted by a decision to not try at all “… Jeff Bezos
The global pandemic has been a financial disaster for all but the super rich in 2020 with countries borrowing more and more, people losing jobs and entire industries on the verge of collapse.
For the super rich, however, it’s been a profitable year – with the planet’s billionaires adding a combined £7.8 trillion to their fortunes.
According to a report by Swiss bank UBS, the world’s richest increased their wealth by 27.5 percent, while the number of billionaires also rose in 2020, rising from 2158 to 2189, with many enjoying the rewards of betting on the recovery of the global stock markets when it hit rock bottom at the height of the first wave of the virus.
Individually, the world’s richest person Jeff Bezos increased his fortune by $74 billion this year, with the Amazon founder now worth $189 billion. However, the most profitable person this year is Tesla founder Elon Mask, who is now worth $103 billion after adding $76 billion to his wealth.
UBS’ Josef Stadler pointed to the wealthy having the ‘the stomach’ to buy more company shares as markets plunged, making their money back and then some when they recovered.
Stadler did sound a note of caution, however, suggesting wealth in a time of recession could well cause a broader backlash.
“Is there a risk they may be singled out by society? Yes” he said. “Are they aware of it? Yes.” “But it won’t prevent the super rich from expanding their frontiers as business security is factored into their business models to plan against such risks” says Dr. Ohio Ojeagbase of ProbitasReport
This was backed up by Luke Hilyard, executive director of the think tank High Pay Centre, who told the Guardian that the report was a “sign that capitalism isn’t working as it should.”
Furthering his comment, Hilyard added: “Billionaire wealth equates to a fortune almost impossible to spend over multiple lifetimes of absolute luxury.
“Anyone accumulating riches on this scale could easily afford to raise the pay of the employees who generate their wealth, or contribute a great deal more in taxes to support vital public services, whilst remaining very well rewarded for whatever successes they’ve achieved.”