The U.S. gained 56 new billionaires since mid-March, bringing the total of U.S. billionaires to 659. Collectively, their wealth has grown by more than $1 trillion in the months since the pandemic began, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.
U.S. billionaires own $4 trillion in wealth — about twice as much as the 165 million poorest Americans are worth, according to a report issued jointly this month by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies, Forbes reported.
The billionaires’ wealth growth since March is more than the $908 billion in pandemic relief proposed by a bipartisan group of members of Congress that was stalled over Republican concerns that it is too costly, Inequality.org reported. Congress finally approved $600 stimulus checks as part the package.
In a Bloomberg opinion piece, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers spoke out against a higher proposed round of $2,000 stimulus checks, saying they would risk overheating the economy. “There is no good economic argument for the $2,000 checks … it is bad economics,” Summers wrote.
“When U think about the design of the economy, how things are set up where ‘stocks fly as people & jobs die,’ you have to think about Dem’s like Larry Summers,” The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin tweeted. “Systemic problems shouldn’t be discussed detached from influential & partial owners of the problem, real people w/ NAMES.”
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Business boomed in 2020 for the biggest U.S. tech companies, which saw their fortunes rise when much of the U.S. economy was hurting.
Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Facebook all reported third-quarter results that showed revenue climbing faster than Wall Street had expected. Online advertising markets roared back to life after the coronavirus-induced slump earlier in the year, Financial Times reported. E-commerce and cloud computing boomed as many locked-down Americans worked and played online at home. The combined sales of the four big tech companies grew by 18 percent to $227 billion in Q3 2020.
Kanye West and Tyler Perry are among America’s “emergent billionaires,” NBC News reported, but “these entertainers are notable exceptions, though.”
Most of the new members in the billionaires’ club aren’t household names and the stock market is largely responsible for their ballooning net worth.
By March 18, most federal and state economic restrictions in response to the coronavirus were in place, affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of small businesses.
A recent study found that more than 800 small businesses are closing each day in the U.S. and 60 percent of those will not reopen, Convention of States reported. Another study put the number of closed businesses even higher. That report showed 316,000 businesses closed between February and September for daily closures of 1,500.
However, Seattle NBC affiliate King5 verified that even in a normal year, the U.S. can see an average of 2,500 daily business closures a day.
More than one in 1,000 people in the U.S. — population: 328 million — have died since the onset of the coronavirus, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University. As of this writing on Dec. 31, 2020, the U.S. has reported 20,364,614 coronavirus cases and 352,826 deaths.
During that period, the total net worth of the country’s 651 billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion on March 18 to $4.01 trillion on Dec. 7 — a 36 percent increase, based on a Forbes analysis.
Forbes found 50 new billionaires in the healthcare sector in 2020. One is Timothy Springer. An immunologist and professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard University, Springer was a founding investor in Moderna in 2010. He put about $5 million into the fledgling company. A decade later, his 3.5-percent stake is worth about $1.6 billion.
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Billionaire wealth got a big boost from the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented response to stabilize financial markets in the early days of the pandemic, triggering the stock market’s skyrocketing rise. “When Wall Street was on the verge of panic in March, the Federal Reserve intervened with the promise of low rates and an open-ended liquidity spigot,” Martha C. White wrote for NBC News.
“The combination of easy money and an abrupt shift in economic activity that favored digital commerce, communication, education and business activity gave technology firms — both startups and big companies — an unexpected tailwind,” White wrote.
“Stop being mad at billionaires,” a Twitter user said. “You (you know who you are) are not capable of deciding nor should you be allowed to decide how much wealth what any one person is allowed to have. You are mad that they have billions. Yet you use the products they created. Stop it. Just stop.”
Other Twitter users had suggestions for what the billionaires should do with their money, such as: each billionaire should “DONATE at least $1 BILLION to help the very Americans that made them so wealthy to begin with!”
“or we could just tax them and not rely on philanthropy and charity to take care of working people,” another responded.