The United States accounts for one of the highest number of billionaires besides hosting the richest person on the planet. The immense fortune by American billionaires can be seen clearly when compared to counterparts from other countries.
Data presented by Buy Shares indicates that the $609.3 billion combined fortune of five richest Americans is more than the cumulative wealth of five richest people from China, Russia, and India at $463.6 billion. The 20 rich people overviewed from four countries now control a combined net worth of $1.72 trillion. The data shows that the top five richest Americans also hold the same position globally.
From the data, Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person with a staggering net worth of $205 billion as of August 26, 2020. His wealth is almost double the size of the combined fortune of the five richest people from Russia which stands at $112.4 billion. Bezos is also $88.8 billion richer than Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates who ranks as the second richest person in the world.
Billionaires among Covid-19 biggest gainers
Most of the global billionaires are spread across different industries with finance and investment remaining the top niche. Notable finance and investing billionaires are Warren Buffett who emerged as the fifth richest person in the world. The group also has an interest in fashion, retail, real estate, and technology.
It is worth mentioning that the wealth of overviewed individuals is estimated based on their documented assets and accounting for debt and other factors. The billionaires on this ranking excluded individuals whose wealth cannot be fully ascertained.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the global billionaires are among the biggest beneficiaries. For example, Jeff Bezos crossed the $200 billion mark, a record milestone since Amazon was among the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic. In the course of the health crisis, Amazon largely benefited as consumers turned to online retailers for essential goods. Bezos’ personal wealth is mostly in Amazon stock and it has been skyrocketing in recent years along with the company’s share price.
Notably, Bezos’s wealth could have been much more were not for his expensive divorce. Last year, Bezos parted ways with ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, and agreed to give her 25% of his Amazon stake. Based on the current market, the stake is worth $63 billion.
However, Bezos alongside other billionaires in the technology industry is expected to be among the biggest gainers this year. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the technology sector has shown positive recovery signs with stocks surging. The surge in tech stocks has seen Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth also grow to new heights. Unlike some wealthy people like Facebook’s founder, it took a lot of time for most people to make their first billion.
Are billionaires benefitting from weak tax laws?
On the flip side, the rise of global billionaires has also been marred with some controversy, especially on tax-related matters. In the US, taxing the wealthy has been a major debate that has gone into political circles. There is a general feeling that some of the wealthy gate away with fewer taxes. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, millionaires and billionaires were set to reap more than 80% of the benefits from a change to the tax law as part of the coronavirus economic relief package.
Most billionaires usually combine their huge investing and purchasing power alongside government resources in addition to their own resources to profit from during economic crises. In addition to wealth-friendly tax laws and loopholes, some of the richest individuals are able to stay on top.
However, there have been concerns about how some billionaires keep getting rich. Some suspect that billionaires are engaging in unethical practices to attain much wealth. There have been calls for top billionaires to redistribute their wealth. At the same time, there is a school of thought that supports the close scrutinization of billionaires. For example in the United States, Congress has been urged to set up a “Pandemic Profiteering Oversight Committee” whose sole purpose will be to probe corruption and profiteering by a few individuals.
The leaders of the military coup in Mali have told a delegation of West African mediators that they want to stay in power for a three-year transition period, Nigeria said on Wednesday.
Negotiators from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) were sent to Mali at the weekend to discuss a return to civilian rule with the military officers who ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in the Aug. 18 coup.
But three days of meetings ended without a decision on the structure of a transitional government.
The junta leaders said after taking power that they acted because the country was sinking into chaos and insecurity which they said was largely the fault of poor government. They also promised to oversee a transition to elections within a “reasonable” amount of time.
The Nigerian presidency said the mutineers were now seeking to oversee a three-year transition before elections. Earlier, ECOWAS envoy Goodluck Jonathan had given an update on talks to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an Interim Government, headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months, and maximum of 12 calendar months,” the presidency quoted Jonathan as saying in a statement.
The coup has raised the prospect of further political turmoil in Mali which, like other countries in the region, has faced an expanding threat from Islamist militants and civil unrest.
Coup leaders have held Keita since his overthrow, declining an ECOWAS request for him to be moved to his own residence.
“They said he could travel abroad, and not return to answer questions they may have for him,” Jonathan was quoted as saying.
The bloc has taken a hardline on the coup, shutting borders and halting some financial flows.
“The military leaders want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place, as it was already affecting the country,” it said.
Leaders of the 15-nation bloc are scheduled to hold a summit on Friday to discuss further steps.