7 Oct 2020

Billionaires reach record wealth during Covid-19 pandemic

5:40 pm on 7 October 2020

Billionaire wealth reached record high levels amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a report by UBS and PwC found, as a rally in stock prices and gains in technology and healthcare helped the wealth of the world's richest break the $10 trillion mark ($NZ15 trillion).

US money

File photo. Photo: 123rf

The report, covering over 2000 billionaires representing some 98 percent of the cohort's total wealth, found billionaire wealth grew by more than a quarter during the early months of the pandemic to reach $US10.2 trillion in July, breaking the previous record of $US8.9 trillion ($NZ13.5 trillion) at the end of 2019.

The figure represents a five- to ten-fold rise over the past 25 years, the span covered by the UBS and PwC database, when billionaire wealth stood at just over $US1 trillion ($NZ1.5 trillion).

Between 7 April and 31 July this year, billionaires across every industry covered by the study saw their wealth rise by double digits, with billionaires in the technology, healthcare and industrial sectors leading the pack with 36 percent - 44 percent gains.

The pandemic accelerated a trend of technology and healthcare entrepreneurs, and other business innovators, pulling ahead of their ultra-rich peers.

From 2018 through July 2020, tech billionaires saw their wealth rise 42.5 percent to $US1.8 trillion ($NZ 2.7 trillion), the report found, while billionaires deriving their fortune from healthcare similarly saw their wealth rise 50.3 percent during the period to $658.6 billion (NZ$999.4 billion).

Just over 200 of those billionaires publicly committed some $US7.2 billion ($NZ10.9 billion) to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, the study found, noting that billionaire donations to combat the medical crisis as well as the societal and economic turmoil it caused were likely actually higher.

- Reuters

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