American billionaires’ net worths have grown to $4 trillion during the coronavirus pandemic

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Jeff Bezos has seen his net worth grow by $US71.4 billion. David McNew/Getty Images
  • During the coronavirus pandemic, American billionaires have seen their collective wealth grow to $US4 trillion.
  • The 10 richest billionaires are now worth more than $US1 trillion, which is larger than the current stimulus package being negotiated.
  • Meanwhile, lower-income Americans have been particularly hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic.
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US billionaires have seen huge gains during the coronavirus pandemic, with their collective wealth now topping $US4 trillion.

According to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), America’s billionaires saw their net worths jump by 36% from March 18 to December 7.

And the 10 richest billionaires — with Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates, respectively, dominating the top three spots — are now collectively worth over $US1 trillion.

“Never before has America seen such an accumulation of wealth in so few hands,” Frank Clemente, the executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said in a press release. Clemente added: “Their wealth growth is so great that they alone could provide a $US3,000 stimulus payment to every man, woman, and child in the country, and still be richer than they were nine months ago.”

Indeed, the $US1 trillion that billionaires added to their net worths is greater than the $US908 billion coronavirus stimulus package currently being negotiated.

Per the Wall Street Journal, a Federal Reserve report found that Americans had a total net worth of $US123.52 trillion as of the third quarter of 2020. Billionaires’ collective $US4 trillion net worth represents 3% of that total. That means that, if the rest of the nation’s net worth was evenly distributed, every American would have a $US361,000 net worth. That’s less than 0.1% of the net worth of Jeff Bezos.

Of course, the nation’s net worth isn’t evenly distributed. As of 2018, the Fed found, four out of 10 Americans couldn’t cover a $US400 emergency expense without borrowing.

During the coronavirus pandemic, almost half of lower-income adults have had trouble paying their bills, according to the Pew Research Centre. About a third say they have had trouble making rent or mortgage payments. On the whole, lower-income adults who were laid off were less likely to be working again than higher-income peers.

Chuck Collins, the director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at IPS, told Business Insider that the increased concentration of billionaire wealth may not bode well for a post-pandemic world.

“In the post-Covid World, many Main Street businesses will be unable to compete with these new concentrations of monopoly ownership and billionaire political power,” Collins wrote in an email.

“We’re about to enter into a winter of pain, with millions of households facing eviction, foreclosure, and loss of wealth. Ultimately, this imbalance of wealth puts at risk the health of the economy and society — with further declines in middle and working class spending power.”