“Windfall to Billionaire Wealth”: The Number of Billionaires Increased by 13% During Pandemic

The number of billionaires in the world rose to more than 3,000 for the first time during the pandemic, Business Insider reports.

The number of billionaires in 2020 increased by 13.4% from 2019, according to a report from the research firm Wealth-X.

The total wealth held by the world’s billionaires increased by 5.7%, growing to more than $10 trillion, according to the report.

"Viewed in aggregate, the global pandemic delivered a windfall to billionaire wealth, boosted by the flood of monetary stimulus and swelling profits in key sectors that coined a new wave of younger, self-made billionaires," the report said.

On the other hand, countless millions of workers suffered major losses amid the pandemic. Workers around the world lost an estimated $3.7 trillion in earnings as a result of the pandemic, according to a report from the International Labour Organization.

Wealth, poverty both rise:

The United States saw poverty rise by about 1% and household incomes drop by about 2.9% during the pandemic at the same time as North America solidified its status as “the world’s leading billionaire region” with 980 of the world’s billionaires.

"As the global economy gradually emerges from the crisis, the issue of widening inequality may well spur more concerted redistributive policy efforts in areas such as tax and regulation," the report said.

Calls for wealth tax:

A growing number of entities have called to tax wealth to address growing inequality. The International Monetary Fund has said that a temporary tax on the wealthy could help speed up pandemic recovery. Argentina has already approved a one-time tax on its wealthiest residents that is expected to raise an estimated $2.4 billion.

In the US, Democrats proposed hiking taxes on corporations and closing loopholes that allow the wealthy to pay a lower rate or no taxes at all on income from investments but that plan appears to be at risk of getting cut out in negotiations with moderate lawmakers backed by powerful business interests.

President Joe Biden last week criticized billionaires who have reaped trillions during the pandemic.

“CEOs used to make about 20 times the average worker in the company that they ran.  Today, they make more than 350 times what the average worker in their corporation makes,” Biden said, adding that it’s “simply not fair.”


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