Billionaire wealth reaches new high during COVID-19 pandemic - UBS

Reuters

Posted at Oct 07 2020 10:57 AM

The Empire State Building and Manhattan skyline is seen from the 77 story One Vanderbilt office tower, the latest super-tall skyscraper to grace New York's iconic skyline, which is set to open while the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) keeps the largest and richest US office market almost empty, in midtown Manhattan, New York City, US, September 9, 2020. Mike Segar, Reuters/file

ZURICH - 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.

The report, covering over 2,000 billionaires representing some 98% of the cohort's total wealth, found billionaire wealth grew by more than a quarter during the early months of the pandemic to reach $10.2 trillion in July, breaking the previous record of $8.9 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 $1 trillion.

Between April 7 and July 31 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 to 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 $1.8 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.

Just over 200 of those billionaires publicly committed some $7.2 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.