The already vast fortunes of America’s 643 billionaires have soared by an average of 29% since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which has at the same time laid waste to tens of millions of jobs around the world.
The richest of the superrich have benefited by $845bn , according to a report by a US progressive thinktank, the Institute for Policy Studies.
The report calculated that 643 billionaires in the US had racked up $845bn (£642bn) in collective wealth gains since 18 March, when lockdowns began across the US and much of the rest of the world. The collective wealth of the billionaire class increased from $2.95tn to $3.8tn. That works out to gains of $141bn a month, or $4.7bn a day.
Over the same period, more than 197,000 Americans have died from coronavirus and more than 50m Americans have lost their jobs.
The billionaire economy has been turbocharged by policymakers, who are now stalling on relief for the real economy,” said Chuck Collins, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program on Inequality and co-author of the Billionaire Bonanza 2020 report. “The difference is stark between profits for billionaires and the widespread economic misery in our nation. Clearly, the priorities of elected officials in Washington, DC are completely upside down.”
Assessing Collins’ claim here clearly depends upon an accurate determination of which way is “up”.