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Thursday, August 20, 2020

August 20, 2020

“The rich get richer” doesn’t even begin to tell the story these days.

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the wealth of the top 12 billionaires in the U.S. recently exploded to more than one trillion dollars — yes, 13 digits.

The statistic, of course, is an eye-popping figure on its face, made even more so in light of the devastation in the broader economy due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a disturbing milestone in the U.S. history of concentrated wealth and power,” said Chuck Collins, a director for the Washington D.C.-based progressive think tank. “This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people. From the point of view of a democratic self-governing society, this represents an Oligarchic Dozen.”
Since the pandemic first blew up in the U.S. back in March, the “Oligarchic Dozen” has enjoyed a 40% surge in its combined wealth — or an increase of $283 billion.
Tesla’s TSLA, -0.45% Elon Musk has been the biggest beneficiary, with his wealth, as of August 13, tripling to $73 billion. That doesn’t even include the fierce rally in Tesla shares on Monday, which pushed Musk into the fourth position on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Here’s the full list:

“The total wealth of the Oligarchic Dozen is greater than the GDP of Belgium and Austria combined,” said Omar Ocampo, a researcher for IPS’s program on inequality and the common good. “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.”

The Oligarchic Dozen, like everybody else, got off to a rough start this year, with the group’s collective wealth dropping by almost $100 billion from January 1 to March 18. It didn’t take long for their net worth to rebound and surpass their September 2019 levels, except for Warren Buffett BRK.A, -0.83% , who is still a couple billion short of his year-ago figure.

And it’s not just Bezos and the bunch who have seen fortune smile upon them lately. CEO compensation, overall, climbed to its highest level in seven years last year, and it is positioned to rise once again in 2020, according to an Economic Policy Institute study cited by the Washington Post. In fact, the pay ratio between chief executives and workers at America’s 350 biggest companies has widened to 320-to-1, the researchers found.

Meanwhile, many on the “Oligarch” list were having another good run on Tuesday, with Amazon AMZN, -1.57% , Alphabet GOOG, -0.71% , Tesla and Microsoft MSFT, -0.60% , all in the green. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.30% was lagging, while the S&P 500 SPX, -0.44% and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.57% were both pushing higher.


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