New research by the US’ Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) showed that, since the beginning of the pandemic, the 12 top US billionaires have seen their combined wealth soar by 40 percent, or $283 billion, to more than $1 trillion.
It’s the first time in US history that the collective net worth of the top 12 American billionaires has topped the trillion-dollar mark.
What the IPS terms the “Oligarchic Dozen” includes Jeff Bezos ($189.4 billion), Bill Gates ($114 billion), Mark Zuckerberg ($95.5 billion), Warren Buffett ($80 billion), Elon Musk ($73 billion), Steve Ballmer ($71 billion), Larry Ellison ($70.9 billion), Larry Page ($67.4 billion), Sergey Brin ($65.6 billion), Alice Walton ($62.5 billion), Jim Walton ($62.3 billion), and Rob Walton ($62 billion).
“This is a disturbing milestone in the US history of concentrated wealth and power. This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of 12 people. From the point of view of a democratic self-governing society, this represents an Oligarchic Twelve or a Despotic Dozen,” said the report.
IPS researchers Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo wrote that, “During the first stage of the pandemic, between January 1 and March 18, the collective wealth of the Oligarchic Dozen declined by $96 billion. But their wealth quickly rebounded and surpassed their September 2019 Forbes 400 wealth level. The only exception is Warren Buffett, who is still $2 billion below his September 2019 wealth, but is currently worth $80 billion.“
The research showed that Elon Musk has been the biggest pandemic profiteer, seeing his wealth triple from $24.6 billion on March 18 to $73 billion on August 13 – an increase of $48.5 billion or 197 percent.
Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos was worth $189.4 billion in August – up $76 billion or 68 percent since March – while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was worth $95.5 billion, having increased his worth by $40.8 billion or 75 percent.
“The total wealth of the Oligarchic Dozen is greater than the GDP of Belgium and Austria combined,” said Ocampo. “Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans are unemployed or living paycheck to paycheck, and 170,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States.”
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