The collective wealth of the world’s billionaires exploded by more than 60 percent last year, from $8 trillion to $13.1 trillion, according to Forbes magazine’s annual list of global billionaires, released on Tuesday.
“COVID-19 brought terrible suffering, economic pain, geopolitical tension—and the greatest acceleration of wealth in human history,” Forbes writes.
The number of billionaires in the world grew by 660 to 2,775, the biggest total number and the largest annual increase ever. A new billionaire was minted every 17 hours.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk lead the pack with $177 billion and $151 billion, respectively. They are followed by Bernard Arnault and family ($150 billion), who control the French luxury goods company LVMH, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($124 billion) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($97 billion).
Press reports discuss how Zuckerberg “earned” $50 billion and Elon Musk “earned” $130 billion last year. But the very term is an absurdity. One cannot “earn” a figure equivalent to the gross domestic product of a mid-size country.
This wealth is socially appropriated. First, through the exploitation of the working class in the process of production.