Coronavirus has helped total billionaire wealth to its most significant level ever. Since the pandemic began, the total wealth held by billionaires around the world has developed by a quarter to over $10 trillion.
The landmark coincides with another in the billionaire world, that of the world's first-ever $200 billionaire. Jeff Bezos' total assets crossed the $200 mark in August, exactly when UBS and PwC were tallying up the data for its annual report on billionaires.
That report, released on Wednesday (7 October), shows that aggregate billionaire wealth has developed at its fastest rate over any period over the past decade.
Among April and July, billionaires developed their wealth by 27% from $8 trillion at the beginning of April. This was largely thanks to government boost packages.
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"Billionaire wealth is loosely correlated with equity markets," notes the 'Riding the Storm' report copublished by UBS and PwC. "From the end of March, governments' huge fiscal and quantitative easing packages drove a recovery in financial markets."
Over half of the stocks and shares possessed by American family units are held by the most extravagant 1% according to research by Goldman Sachs GS +2.2%in February. As markets rise, as they have done since March, the wealthiest, therefore, see the greatest gains.
The CARES Act coronavirus relief package has just helped those gains. An escape clause in March's legislation allowed millionaires to profit as much as $1.7 million from the government. A further 133 large companies have since gotten $5 billion from the Treasury Department.
In the U.K., government improvement packages worth over £16 billion ($20.6 billion) have gone straightforwardly into billionaire-possessed companies, data in June revealed.
"This pandemic has magnified every existing inequality in our society," says one billionaire, Melinda Gates, in launching the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Goalkeepers Report last month.
That report tracks the 17 UN Global Goals For Sustainable Development. Number 10, "reduced inequalities", is just slipping further away as the rich get more extravagant.
Billionaires Donate Record Amounts, For Now
As well as boosting their wealth, coronavirus has also increased the donations of billionaires. UBS and PwC's research finds that they are giving away more now than at any time in history.
The couple also notes "that is probably going to be just a fraction of the overall amount, given a tendency towards discretion."
More than seventy-five percent of wealthy families like to donate discreetly, according to a separate report published on Tuesday (6 October)
"Their inclination for discretion does mean that the degree of their societal commitment is anyway not always perceived," says Guy Hudson, partner and head of marketing at Stonehage Fleming, a multi-family office that published the 'Four Pillars of Capital' report.
In any case, when asked, "Do you expect to give away more this year, as a result of Covid-19, than in previous years?" over half of the respondents to Stonehage Fleming's examination said "No."
UBS and PwC also discovered that charity was probably going to be temporary. At the point when they asked billionaires about their plans for the following a year, philanthropy was at the top of a couple of agendas.
Instead, "succession planning" was the most popular reaction as billionaires thought about their fate. Philanthropy was in 6th place, with just a quarter saying they planned to "give more" throughout the following a year.
Indeed, even the $7.2 billion in Covid-19 donations that UBS and PwC attributed to 209 billionaires speaks to only 0.3% of the total billionaire wealth gained during the same time frame.
Statistics like this will just increase calls for billionaires to do more with their money or weight governments into considering a wealth tax.
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