"Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic."
While much of the world felt a financial squeeze during the COVID-19 pandemic, the richest men on the planet were making money like never before.
The world's 10 richest people — all of whom are men — have actually seen their combined wealth more than double since the pandemic began, according to a new report by Oxfam that looks at how much money the 1% makes.
And they made a lot. The 10 richest men saw their combined wealth increase at a rate of $15,000 per second — adding up to about $1.3 billion a day — since the pandemic began.
The worth of their combined fortunes went from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion during a time when 99% of humanity saw their income fall, according to Oxfam.
"If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet," Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said in a news release.
And while the rich got richer, Oxfam says the pandemic forced 160 million more people across the globe into poverty.
Oxfam made its calculations based on Forbes' 2021 billionaires list, along with Credit Suisse Research Institute's Global Wealth Databook 2021.
According to Forbes' list, the wealthiest 10 people on the planet in 2021 were:
- Jeff Bezos ($177 B)
- Elon Musk ($151 B)
- Bernard Arnault & family ($150 B)
- Bill Gates ($124 B)
- Mark Zuckerberg ($97 B)
- Warren Buffett ($96 B)
- Larry Ellison ($93 B)
- Larry Page ($91.5 B)
- Sergey Brin ($89 B)
- Mukesh Ambani ($84.5 B)
Eight of these 10 billionaires are from the U.S., and two of them actually used their money to build and launch their own rockets during the pandemic.
However, Forbes notes that their 2021 list "is a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and exchange rates from March 5, 2021. Some people become richer or poorer within days of publication." According to their Real-Time Billionaires List, which is updated daily, Musk had climbed to the top of the list with a net worth of $268.1 billion as of January 16, 2022. Bezos, meanwhile, had fallen to third place with $188 billion.
The fortune of global billionaires has risen more since the COVID-19 pandemic began than it did in the past 14 years, making it the most significant surge in their wealth ever recorded, Oxfam says.
The report also suggests that if a one-off 99% tax was imposed on the money the top 10 billionaires made during the pandemic alone, it could pay for enough vaccines for the whole world as well as provide universal health care and social protection, reduce gender-based violence and fund climate adaptation in over 80 countries.
Even after such a tax, these billionaires would be a combined $8 billion wealthier than they were before the pandemic.
Bucher also pointed out that the impact of the pandemic has been worse along "racialized, marginalized and gendered lines."
"Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic," she said.
She added that combined, the 10 richest men "now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people."
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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