The world’s billionaires’ fortunes has now reached $10.2 trillion. That comes from a report by UBS, a Swiss bank which found that their wealth has increased by 27.5% during the height of the pandemic crisis from April to July 2020. This growth occurred while millions were losing jobs, income, health coverage, and were struggling to get by. I had previously written about the increase in the number of billionaires, this is far more revealing, the growth of their wealth as a result of the pandemic—not only because they were able to ride the storm created by the virus but also because they were able to gain from its downside. Jeff Bezos as most already know is a prime example. Why this is so important is so well expressed by Luke Hilyard, executive director of the High Pay Center a think tank that like its name focuses on undue and disproportionate pay: “…extreme wealth is an ugly phenomenon from a moral perspective, but it’s also economically and socially destructive.”
“Billionaire wealth equals to a fortune almost impossible to spend over multiple lifetimes of absolute luxury. Anyone accumulating riches on this scale could easily afford to raise the pay of the employees who generate their wealth, or contribute a great deal more in taxes to support vital public services, while remaining very well rewarded for whatever successes they’ve achieved.”
“The findings from the UBS report showing that the super-rich are getting even richer are a sign that capitalism isn’t working as it should.”
This is not without consequences. Josef Stradler the head of the UBS office which deals with the world’s richest people, admits that these facts could lead to public and political anger. He further admits that the wealthy themselves are aware of it and in the past had warned that the inequality between rich and poor could lead to what he called a “strike-back”. He further explains that “We are at an inflection point. Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest- that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?” It’s a question many are already asking.