Elon Musk’s net worth has tripled during the pandemic as the superrich get richer

Elon Musk after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre on May 30. REUTERS/Steve Nesius
  • Elon Musk’s net worth has more than tripled since March 18 – a week after the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
  • Musk added nearly $US8 billion to his fortune on Monday alone.
  • Musk is far from the only billionaire whose fortune has skyrocketed in 2020, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies: Jeff Bezos’ net worth was up 68% and Mark Zuckerberg’s was up 75% as of last Thursday.
  • The pandemic has upended the finances of millions of Americans during the same time span, prompting renewed calls for a wealth tax.
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Lots of billionaires have gotten richer since the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, but then there’s Elon Musk.

The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX saw his net worth rise by 197% from March 18 to August 13, according to a new analysis released Monday by the left-leaning think tank the Institute for Policy Studies.

Musk’s net worth has grown even more over the past week. He added nearly $US8 billion to his fortune on Monday alone, making him the fourth-richest person on the planet and bringing his net-worth percentage increase since March 18 up to a whopping 246%, according to Bloomberg‘s estimates. (His latest estimated net worth, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is $US84.8 billion.)

The surge in Musk’s fortune has paralleled the surge in the value of Tesla shares, which account for much of his wealth. The stock is up 732% in 2020.

A representative for Musk at Tesla did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the billionaire’s net worth.

“Musk’s leadership, a compelling brand, and improved execution are driving an ever-increasing stock price,” Bank of America analysts wrote Friday, Business Insider’s Carmen Reinicke previously reported.

Billionaires’ skyrocketing earnings seem even starker when compared with the pandemic’s economic impact on the rest of the country

An unprecedented 56 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past 21 weeks, far surpassing the 37 million claims filed during the 18-month Great Recession that ended in 2009. At the same time, experts predict that more than 28 million Americans could lose their homes after falling behind on their rent since the federal eviction moratorium expired.

Though Musk’s gains in percentage terms were by far the largest of any billionaire in the Institute for Policy Studies’ analysis, the South Africa native is far from the only member of the three-comma club to get richer over the past five months.

As of last Thursday, the world’s richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, had seen his net worth grow 68% to $US189.4 billion since mid-March – giving him the biggest increase in dollar terms – while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune grew 75% to $US95.5 billion, IPS found (Zuckerberg earlier in August had passed $US100 billion for the first time). The 12 richest Americans are now worth more than $US1 trillion combined, according to IPS‘ calculations.

Calls for a specialised tax on billionaire’s fortunes have strengthened as a result, especially as governments face ballooning budgets and falling tax revenue because of the pandemic. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced one such bill in early August to tax what he called “the obscene wealth gains” of billionaires during the pandemic.