The stock market rout gripping the world last week and today is bad news for just about anyone who uses money, but when the value of assets collapses, it’s the richest who lose the most.
Take, for instance, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who lost $1.9 billion U.S. in a day’s trading on Friday; or Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, who was down $1.8 billion; or famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway head Warren Buffett, who lost $1.7 billion.
And that was all last Friday — before Monday’s even wilder ride on the stock market.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the world’s richest 400 people lost $182 billion in wealth last week. It was the largest drop ever seen in the index, but it only launched last September.
The recent drop in stock markets around the world means the world’s 400 wealthiest people have in total lost money this year, with their combined net worth at $3.98 trillion, down $75 billion from the start of the year.
Here's a screencap of 40 richest people in the index, updated to Friday. Red numbers mean a decline in wealth. Pretty much all of the world's richest people are losing money right now.
Of course, the world’s super-richest are also the people best equipped to handle a downturn. Zuckerberg’s loss of $1.9 billion last Friday was the largest among the rankings of the world’s wealthiest people, but the Facebook boss is still worth $37.8 billion U.S., so he won’t starve.
And all the research indicates the world’s wealth continues to concentrate in ever larger amounts at the top of the income ladder. An Oxfam report earlier this year predicted that the world’s wealthiest one per cent will hold more wealth than the other 99 per cent by next year.
With the stock market rout hitting wealthy people’s investment portfolios more than it hits lower-income people with no portfolios, that trend of rich-getting-richer might just stall for the next little while.
But it’s likely to start up again, as soon as the markets recover. And a stock market crash is a pretty draconian path to greater economic equality … let’s hope there are better means to achieve that end.
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