June 17, 2021
Economy

The billionaire boom: how the super-rich soaked up Covid cash

Over the past two decades, as the global population of billionaires rose more than fivefold and the largest fortunes rocketed past $100bn, I started tracking this wealth. Not for the voyeuristic thrill, but for warning signs. Rising inequality was becoming ever more of a political issue, threatening to provoke popular backlashes against capitalism itself.

The pandemic has reinforced this trend. As the virus spread, central banks injected $9tn into economies worldwide, aiming to keep the world economy afloat. Much of that stimulus has gone into financial markets, and from there into the net worth of the ultra-rich. The total wealth of billionaires worldwide rose by $5tn to $13tn in 12 months, the most dramatic surge ever registered on the annual billionaire list compiled by Forbes magazine.

The billionaire population boomed last year as well. On the 2021 Forbes list, which runs…

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