The rich get richer: American billionaires including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder Elon Musk have gotten $280 BILLION richer since the start of the pandemic

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American billionaires are enjoying multi-million dollar increases to their net worth as the country’s unemployment levels rise to record highs amid the coronavirus lockdowns

Eight ‘pandemic profiteers’ have seen their net worth surge by over $1billion each since the start of the global pandemic.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, 56, has added $25billion to his own wealth since January 1, 2020, as the company’s staff protest their poor working conditions and he makes a return to the company’s day-to-day running.

According to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies, American billionaires added $282billion – nearly a ten percent increase – to their combined wealth between March 18 and April 10, as the U.S. unemployment rate approached 15 percent.

The United States billionaire class now have a combined net worth of $3.229trillion.

The report was released Thursday, the same day U.S. Labor Department figures revealed that 4.4million Americans filed a claim for unemployment benefit last week.

About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the largest streak of US job losses on record.

According to ‘Billionaire Bonanza 2020: Wealth Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes, and Pandemic Profiteers’, despite a brief decline, the combined wealth of the country’s richest billionaires is greater than in 2010 with Bezos’ wealth surge ‘unprecedented in modern financial history’.

He experienced a dip in his net worth to $105billion on ‘Black Thursday’ March 12 as serious shutdowns in the United States began but quickly rebounded with Amazon in a prime position to profit from the pandemic through their e-commerce site.

His net worth gained $25 billion as of April 15, a figure greater than the Gross Domestic Product of Honduras in 2018.

This was despite workers in at least ten different Amazon factories having tested positive for coronavirus as of late March.

In order to compile the report, the think tank worked from Forbes’ annual ‘World’s Billionaire’s List’ and used the publication’s daily trackers to follow the changes.

Forbes’ 2020 list was released on April 7, after a snapshot of wealth was taken on March 18.

The report looked at the increases since that snapshot up until April 10, to find the wealthy who were still making a profit despite the national economic uncertainty.

‘We started to immediately look at it and realize, even three weeks later, the story was changing quickly,’ Chuck Collins, director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Fast Company.

‘Their story was, “Hey, the pandemic is really affecting even the billionaires; their wealth is down from last year globally and in terms of the U.S.” What we found was, wait three weeks and they’ve now surpassed last year’s collective wealth and now they’re surging to new heights.’

During the period between January 1 to April 10 this year, 34 of the nation’s wealthiest billionaires have seen their net worth increase by tens of millions of dollars, the report said.

Referring to the billionaires as ‘pandemic profiteers’, the report lists eight who have seen a surge of over a billion dollars in the past few weeks.

They include Bezos and his ex-wife MacKenzie, Tesla founder Elon Musk, Zoom’s Eric Yuan and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer.

MacKenzie Bezos owns a four percent stake in Amazon transferred to her by her ex-husband and is also enjoying the increase in orders and sales with a comfortable $8.6billion rise in her net worth as of April 15.

Yuan, the founder and CEO of Zoom, has increased his net worth by $2.58 billion.

The company is massively profiting from work from home guidelines and the increased demand for video conferencing.

The increased demand for videoconferencing has also seen a rush to Microsoft’s Skype and Team, which has worked to the benefit of former CEO Steve Ballmer.

The Los Angeles Clipper owner has increased his wealth by $2.2billion.

Elon Musk is another winner after initially calling the coronavirus pandemic ‘dumb’ on Twitter.

He has since responded to calls for help and sent critical medical equipment to places where there are shortages, as well as adding $5billion to his net worth since the start of the year.

Another finding of the report was the vast difference in the time it will take for financial recovery, with many middle-class Americans entering the pandemic still climbing back from the 2008 crash while the billionaire class had recovered after 30 months.

‘People went into the pandemic with the economic hangover from the Great Recession,’ Collins said.

‘Inequality is America’s pre-existing condition. We went into this pandemic very polarized already, and unfortunately we don’t want to come out of it more polarized.’

The report was highly critical of the billionaires, calling for an emergency ten percent tax called the ‘Millionaire Income Surtax’ as well as a ‘Charity Stimulus’ that would redirect wealth during the current crisis.

‘We’re reading about benevolent billionaires sharing .0001% of their wealth with their fellow humans in this crisis, but in fact they’ve been rigging the tax rules to reduce their taxes for decades—money that could have been spent building a better public health infrastructure,’ said Collins.

‘Wealthy donors have already taken the tax breaks and now the money is just sitting there. . . . If they’re saving the money for a rainy day, they should look out the window. It’s raining very hard,’ he added.

‘It’s time to fulfill the second part of the promise. They got the tax break; now let’s move the money not to a donor-advised fund, not to foundation overhead to pay your kids—move the money to the active community charities that are solving problems right now who are fearful they’re going to have to close their doors.’

The coronavirus outbreak has now thrown at least 26 million Americans out of work in five weeks – wiping out all of the job growth since the Great Recession a decade ago.

There were 4.4 million new claims for unemployment benefits filed last week, according to the latest Labor Department figures released on Thursday.

It adds to the nearly 22 million people who applied for unemployment aid in the previous four weeks.

About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the largest streak of US job losses on record.

On Thursday, it was announced that Bezos has taken back control of the day-to-day running of Amazon during the pandemic, as orders skyrocket, warehouse staff stage walkouts and the billionaire plans to use the company’s supply chain to ramp up coronavirus testing across states.

Bezos has returned to the daily grind at the trillion-dollar firm as it – like all businesses – grapples with the impact of the global pandemic on its customers, staff and supply chain, the company said.

The Amazon CEO is holding daily calls on inventory and testing, is collaborating with government officials over their response to the pandemic and is making public visits to staff on the frontline for the first time in years.

This comes as the retail giant has seen a surge in demand, as with businesses shuttered and stay-at-home orders in place, shoppers are turning to online delivery.

Bezos set his sights on testing and launched an Amazon lab to ramp up testing for Amazon workers and other Americans.

But the retailer has also faced its biggest labor unrest in its history, with hundreds of Amazon workers planning a mass call out throughout this week over claims the company has placed warehouse staff at ‘increased risk and exposure’ to coronavirus.



*Note We Deliberately Miss Spell Some Words or Add Capital Letters To Get Around Big Tech Censoring.

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