A surge in technology stocks fueled by a pandemic has led to a reshuffle at the top of the list of US billionaires.
MacKenzie Scott, a novelist and philanthropist who recently divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is now the richest woman in the world. Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk overtook Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to become the third richest man in the world, after Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates.
Since the pandemic lockdowns began in March, the combined wealth of U.S. billionaires has grown by nearly $ 800 billion, or more than 25%, according to an analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness, an advocacy group.
As part of his divorce, Scott secured a 4% stake in Amazon, whose stock is crumbling as coronavirus-induced lockdowns propel online sales and door-to-door deliveries. Shares have gone from nearly $ 2,000 to $ 3,500 since the start of the year.
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Tesla stock has rebounded after a stock split that took effect on Monday and has climbed 500% this year, with investors believing Tesla will dominate the electric vehicle market in the long run. Retail investors in low-cost, low-entry platforms such as Robinhood have also made the stock a favorite, generating self-fulfilling momentum that far exceeds the company’s price-to-earnings ratio, a measure classic share value.
Musk’s personal fortune has tripled since March, the start of the pandemic shutdowns. As part of a recently negotiated salary package, his board will grant him an additional $ 50 billion if he meets all of a set of agreed performance goals.
Despite being a wild and insane carousel atop the billionaire index, the meteoric pace of wealth accumulation stands in stark contrast to the economic devastation to which millions of Americans across the globe are facing. spectrum are facing.
The Federal Reserve estimated that household net worth fell a record 5.6% in the first quarter, the biggest single-quarter drop since the 1950s.
With an unemployment rate of 10.2%, more than a million people a week still claiming unemployment benefits for the first time, and lawmakers still deadlocked on additional emergency funding, some Americans are have turned to crowdfunding to keep their stores open, pay for medical bills. procedures – and even funerals.
Nearly half of U.S. households are hungry, and demand for food pantries has risen 20% since the start of the pandemic, according to Feeding America.
In addition, around 40 million Americans could be evicted from their homes in the coming months. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use their authority to end evictions until the end of the year.
“The growth of billionaire wealth – alongside the collapse in the health and fortunes of most working-class and low-income households – is grotesque and improper,” said Chuck Collins, director of the inequalities program. at the Institute for Policy Studies.
While Musk called the coronavirus restrictions “fascist”, tweeted that he wanted to sell “almost all physical goods” and complained that the Tesla share price is “too high”, Scott is the ‘one of the billionaires who signed “The Giving Pledge”, a pledge to give the majority of their wealth. Of his net worth of over $ 50 billion, Scott recently donated $ 1.7 billion to a plethora of historically black nonprofits and colleges.