The coronavirus pandemic is easily the worst thing that has happened to the global financial and labor markets in almost a century. However, the top 1 percent of the country has continued to roll in the cash.
Yesterday, the Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies’ Program for Inequality published a report that showed a general boom in wealth for American billionaires.
Bezos Stands Above All
The report considered the wealth of some of America’s prominent billionaires, comparing them before and post coronavirus. It took into account the 600-plus members of the three-comma club as of March 18, when state governments began to issue lockdowns.
American billionaires collectively saw 15 percent increases in their net worth across the past two months. The total number grew to $3.382 trillion, moving up from $2.948 trillion. The top five billionaires – Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison, combined to make $76 billion.
In terms of pure monetary value, Bezos was the biggest winner as his net worth jumped by $34.6 billion coming in second is Zuckerberg, who saw $25 billion added to his wealth.
However, percentage gains showed a different story. Tesla’s Elon Musk led the way as his net worth surged by 48 percent to $36 billion. Coming in second and third are Zuckerberg and Bezos, with their net worth jumping by 46 percent and 31 percent to $80 billion and $147 billion respectively.
Several other notable e-commerce names saw significant gains as well. Jim, Alice, and Rob Walton saw modest gains, as they recorded percentage wealth growth of 1.5 percent, 1.5 percent, and 1.7 percent across the period. Mackenzie Bezos, Jeff’s ex-wife and current Amazon shareholder, also saw significant gains due to her remaining stake in the company.
Nationwide Lockdown and the Spike in Online Shopping
Bezos’s increase isn’t surprising, of course. Amazon holds a significant share of the country’s e-commerce market and has benefited from two fields that have been in high demand during this period – tech and online retail.
With more Americans staying home due to the virus, e-commerce has become more of a necessity than ever. Amazon has been the poster child for this pandemic-infused boom, as the firm has expanded significantly over the past few weeks.
The firm had to hire hundreds of thousands of workers to meet demands and make up for workers who could have quit or take some time out for sick leave.
Despite the increased staff, business boomed for Amazon in the first quarter.
The company reported as much when it presented its financial results for the first quarter. The firm made about $4 billion in profits, while revenues from its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing arm also topped $10 billion for the first time.
The firm has also said that it expects sales in the second quarter to come in at $75 billion and $81 billion, representing year-over-year growth between 18% and 28%.
As for Walmart, the retail giant also saw impressive growth in sales across the first quarter. As its results show, the firm’s revenues for Q1 stood at $134.6 billion, an increase of $10.7 billion – 8.6 percent.
The firm also reported increasing sales, with multiple items selling out faster than usual. Like Amazon, Walmart also hired more staff – 235,000 of them, as the company announced.