The world’s 500 richest people added $1.2 trillion to their collective net worth in 2019, boosting their holdings by 25% to $5.9 trillion, according to Bloomberg.
Income inequality has become a key issue for politicians around the globe, highlighted by the fact that the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans now hold a larger share of wealth at any point since 1929 — the start of the Great Depression.
New billionaires in 2019 include White Claw creator Anthony von Mandl, cosmetics maven Kylie Jenner and Takeaway.com founder Jitse Grown.
The 172 American billionaires on Bloomberg’s list added a collective $500 billion to their net worth. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was up $27.3 billion and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates increased his wealth by $22.7 billion.
China now has 54 billionaires, second only to the USA.
WeWork’s Adam Neumann is still a billionaire, but the company’s valuation imploded from $47 billion to $8 billion during the year.
Rupert Murdoch’s fortune dropped by about $10 billion after proceeds from Fox’s sale of assets to Disney were distributed among his children.
Extreme wealth creation has spurred giving among the nouveau riche, which in turn has conflated philanthropy and inequality in the public’s mind.
Philanthropy is a central part of how the very rich turn their money into power. The extremely rich, by their nature, tend to be extremely ambitious.
Trump’s tax cuts have removed philanthropic incentives for many Americans. That’s because the standard deduction is so large that the middle class no longer sees any benefit from itemizing charitable deductions.
Politicians are accountable to the electorate. Charitable foundations and the billionaires who fund them, on the other hand, are accountable to no one. As Reich says, their actions therefore deserve more scrutiny than gratitude.
The bottom line: Insofar as philanthropy has a positive effect, it does so via deeply undemocratic means.
Axios/ ABC Flash Point Economy News 2019.