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Billionaire Wealth Hits A New Record High


Image via Kit Suman on Unsplash

It's never a bad time to be a billionaire, but despite the hardships faced by ordinary people across the world as a result of the coronavirus, the last few months have turned out to be a particularly rewarding period for the world's wealthiest.


UBS and PwC published a report yesterday titled "Riding the storm" which found that the wealth of the world's billionaires increased from $8 trillion at the beginning of April to $10.2 trillion at the end of July.


The increase in wealth marks a jump of more than 27% and exceeds the prior high of $8.9 trillion seen at the end of 2017. The number of world's billionaires increased slightly as there are now 2,189 billionaires compared to 2,158 in 2017. UBS and PwC said the report accounts for about 98% of the world's total billionaire wealth.


"We have seen before how a cohort of billionaire innovators and disruptors, active in tech, healthcare and industry, have contributed to reshaping the economy," the report said. "COVID-19 accelerated this trend dramatically: by demonstrating the value of the digital world they helped to create, they were able to decisively pull ahead of the pack as they increased their wealth while others' fell."


The U.S. accounts for more than a third of the world's billionaire wealth as the relative change of their wealth since 2009 has increased by 170%. Mainland China ranked second with more than 16% as the last decade saw the relative change of their wealth increase an astounding 1,146%. Germany, Russia and France round out the top five countries with the highest share of billionaire wealth.


Nearly 50% of billionaires reported having between 21% and 40% of their net wealth invested in real estate. Just over a quarter of billionaires have between 1% and 20% invested in real estate, while more than 17% have between 41% and 60%.


As billionaires' wealth hit record highs so did their charitable donations. 209 billionaires publicly committed a total of more than $7 billion through financial donations, manufactured goods and equipment, or other commitments from March to July. The total is a record for the most donations over a period of a few months according to the report. Nearly half of the donations came from U.S. billionaires, who donated more than $4.5 trillion during the period.


"It's early days, but billionaires may well be at a turning point, putting renewed energy and wealth into tackling the environmental and social problems that the pandemic and recent natural disasters have highlighted," the report said. "Several signs suggest this. Entrepreneurs are turning into philanthropists earlier in their careers than previously."


To get more insight into the wealth of the world's elite, you can read the full report here.


Leftover Crumbs

  • House report rips tech giants. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's 450-page report on U.S. technology giants Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon criticized the group for abusing their dominant positions. "Companies that were once scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons," the report said. "These firms typically run the marketplace while also competing in it — a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another."

  • Twitch runs the video game streaming market. Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, had a 91% market share of the live video game streaming market in the third quarter in terms of hours streamed, according to Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet. This is the highest Twitch's share has been since at least the first quarter of 2018. Twitch appears to have gotten a boost from Microsoft's decision to exit the market when it closed its Mixer service in June. Google' s YouTube gaming had a 6% share in the third quarter, while Facebook Gaming had a 3.4% share.

  • McDonald's adds to breakfast menu. Beginning October 28, McDonald's will add an apple fritter, a blueberry muffin and a cinnamon roll to its breakfast menu, marking the first time the company has added new bakery items in nearly ten years. McDonald's recently suspended its All Day Breakfast campaign to manage costs after facing increased competition. "Any final decision will be made in partnership with our franchisees, based on consumer demand, and designed to drive the business while minimizing operational disruptions," a McDonald's spokesperson said.

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  • PIMCO expects low returns. PIMCO, one of the world's largest asset managers, believes the next three to five years could see low returns across asset classes as the world recovers from the coronavirus. "Given historically low yields and high equity valuations, it makes sense for portfolio managers and asset allocators alike to lower their return expectations rather than stretch too far and extend too far down the quality spectrum in hope of maintaining historical levels of returns," PIMCO said.