Billionaires Earned More As 150M People Got Poorer In 2021
The world's wealthiest people, whose fortunes already strained comprehension, collectively gained $1 trillion last year, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. Elon Musk, the world's richest person, alone gained nearly $118 billion in just the last 12 months, Allison Morrow reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Despite having a nightmare year brought about by a Facebook expose and massive Oculus recall, Mark Zuckerberg is still about $25 billion richer.
As much as 2021 may be remembered as the year of the worker, thanks to rising wages and renewed unionization efforts, it was also the year of the uber-billionaire. The astronomical gains by the world's 0.001% underscore the vastness of the wealth gap between workers and the executives and shareholders whom they serve.
Other big gainers in the billionaire bunch: Luxury goods magnate Bernard Arnault (up $62.7 billion) and Google pals Larry Page and Sergey Brin (up $47 billion and $45 billion, respectively).
Mark Zuckerberg's year was the stuff of tech titan nightmares, but he's still about $25 billion richer for it. Meanwhile, the United Nations estimated 150 million people fell into poverty in 2021.
How’d the billionaires get so much extra wealth?
For one, the stock market. The uber-rich owe a big hat tip to the Federal Reserve, which plowed tens of billions of dollars into financial markets every month while keeping interest rates near zero — an ultra-loose monetary policy designed to keep cash moving in financial markets as the pandemic jolted the global economy in 2020.
That stimulus effort fueled a stock bonanza in 2020 and 2021 (though the Fed gravy train is going away in the first half of this year).