Jeff Bezos may be $US910.7 billion away from becoming the world’s first trillionaire, but research suggests he’s closer than some might think.
A recent Oxfam report on wealth and inequality, entitled “An economy for the 99%,” found super-rich people like Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett have seen their wealth collectively grow by huge margins over the last decade. Within the next 25 years, Bezos’ wealth could jump like never seen before.
According to Oxfam’s report, there were 793 billionaires worldwide in 2009. Added up, their net worths totaled $US2.4 trillion. By 2016, the richest 793 people maintained net worths of $US5 trillion — an annual growth of 11%.
“If these returns continue, it is quite possible that we could see the world’s first trillionaire within 25 years,” the report stated.
In other words, Oxfam estimates that if trends hold, Bezos — whose momentary net worth of $US92.3 billion briefly led the pack on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index on Thursday, before Gates reclaimed the top spot — could stand alone on future lists of “The World’s Trillionaires.”
The question that remains is whether either of the two men will try to keep increasing their wealth or put a chunk of it toward philanthropic efforts. Gates, at least, doesn’t seem to want the “world’s first trillionaire” distinction. Since leaving Microsoft in 2006, he has devoted his time and resources to eradicating infectious disease and improving education worldwide through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In partnership with Warren Buffett, Gates and his wife have created the Giving Pledge for other billionaires who want to help public causes by giving away part or most of their fortunes.
Bezos, meanwhile, has made no such commitments. He hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge and doesn’t involve himself with the Bezos Family Foundation, which his parents run. Recently, he made an open call on Twitter for ways to make lasting impact through short-term philanthropy, but he hasn’t announced that he’ll be pursuing any particular ideas.
Bezos’ greatest efforts to create social change have come through his business ventures. It was evident in his buying The Washington Post in 2013, as he quickly turned it into a lean, digital journalism powerhouse — something other large news organisations have struggled to do. Similarly, Amazons agreement to buy Whole Foods may hint at Bezos’ desire to reinvent the food industry’s supply chain. (At the very least, he has the opportunity to do so.)
As Oxfam suggests, Bezos may beat Gates in the race to 13 digits because wealth is incredibly hard to shrink once someone is so rich that spending is no longer an option. It’s doubly easier for someone like Bezos, who is still actively trying to grow richer.
“The super-rich can achieve returns that are not available to the ordinary saver,” the report stated, “helping the gap to grow between the wealthy and everyone else.”
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