- The wealth of 643 of US' richest billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion between March 18 and September 15, a report by the Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness said.
- This marks a 29% increase over those six months.
- Tesla founder Elon Musk's wealth increased by 273% in the period to $92 billion.
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The richest people in the United States have become $845 billion wealthier during the first six months of the pandemic, with likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett all registering big increases, a report said Thursday.
The Institute for Policy Studies, a left-leaning think-tank, and Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) said the total net worth of 643 of the nation's richest people rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion between March 18 and September 15. The calculations are based on data using Forbes' annual billionaires report and real-time Forbes data.
That marks a 29% increase from the rough date at which coronavirus lockdowns started and financial markets went into free-fall. The stock market has since recovered, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting record highs, but Covid-19 has killed nearly 200,000 Americans and the economy is still mired in recession.
Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality, said: "The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. Clearly, the priorities of our elected officials in Washington, DC are completely upside down."
Bezos, the chief executive of leading online retailer Amazon, has undoubtedly been the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic. His wealth rose by $73.2 billion to $113 billion. Amazon shares have gained 40% this year, as the company racked up billions in online orders for anything from groceries to exercise bikes from consumers who were confined to their homes.
Musk, the founder and CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, is a close second. His wealth has ballooned by $67.4 billion, or 274%. Tesla has been one of the top performing blue-chip stocks this year and, after gaining nearly 800% in value over the last 12 months.
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Markets have benefited from a period of rock-bottom interest rates as the Fed poured stimulus worth trillions to help the economy ride out the pandemic.
The S&P 500 for example has risen by 54% since touching multi-year lows in March.
But the report said the increase in wealth was not solely down to this post-crisis bounce.
"The stock market in which billionaires have much of their money invested dropped sharply in the month before the pandemic lockdown. But the six months of gains that followed were not merely a reversal of those losses: billionaires are also $680 billion, or 22%, richer today than they were in February 2019," it said.
The explosive gains come even though more than 13.5 million Americans are still out of work.