Making Billions: The Richest People in the World in 2020
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Making Billions: The Richest People in the World

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The Richest People in the World

In the last year, the wealth controlled by the world’s top 10 billionaires has jumped by over $76B.

Even in the teeth of jittery markets, many of the world’s richest people have seen their wealth surge to new heights as COVID-19 unfolds.

Today’s infographic draws data from Forbes Billionaire’s List and shows a broad cross-section of the world’s billionaires – highlighting their stratospheric wealth in the current economic climate.

Wealth in Astonishing Circumstances

The below table shows the fortunes of the world’s 10 richest people, comparing the numbers from March 5, 2019 to the most recent data from April 22, 2020.

RankNameNet Worth 2020*Net Worth 2019*Change 2019-2020
#1Jeff Bezos$145B$131B+$14.1B
#2Bill Gates$104B$97B+$7.1B
#3Bernard Arnault & Family$92B$76B+$15.5B
#4Warren Buffett$73B$83B-$9.1B
#5Mark Zuckerberg$69B$62B+$6.5B
#6Larry Ellison$66B$63B+$3.4B
#7Steve Ballmer$63B$41B+$21.3B
#8Amancio Ortega$61B$63B-$2.2B
#9Larry Page$58B$51B+$7.6B
#10Jim Walton$57B$45B+$12.0B
Total Change+$76.2B

Source: Forbes – *As of April 22, 2020 **As of March 5, 2019

Gaining the highest across the top 10 is former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who saw his fortune rise over $21 billion since March 2019.

Facing the steepest losses belong to investing luminary Warren Buffett, whose net worth has dropped over $9 billion over the past year. At year-end 2019 Buffett was a 11% shareholder in Delta Airlines. In April, Buffett sold 13 million shares in the airline.

Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune is holding steady. Amazingly, the Facebook founder still remains one of the world’s youngest billionaires (ranking 22nd out of 2,095) despite first joining the billionaire club a dozen years ago.

Newcomers to the List

As a new decade begins, who are among the most newly-minted billionaires?

Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom has climbed in the ranks as online video communication demand soars. Zoom went public in April 2019 at a stunning $9.2 billion IPO valuation. As of April 24, 2020, Zoom was valued at over $44.3 billion.

RankNameNet WorthSource of Wealth
#1Eric Yuan$7.8BZoom
#2Anthony von Mandl$3.9BMark Anthony Brands
#3Larry Xiangdong Chen$3.6BGSX Techedu
#4Dmitry Bukhman$3.1BPlayrix
#5Igor Bukhman$3.1BPlayrix
#6Sun Huaiqing$3.0BGuangdong Marubi Biotechnology
#7Forrest Li$2.4BSea Group
#8Byju Raveendran$1.7BByju's
#9Jitse Groen$1.5BTakeaway.com
#10Qian Ying$1.5BMuyuan Foods

*As of April 22, 2020

Similarly, Netherland’s Jitse Groen has witnessed his food-delivery company Takeaway.com expand extensively. Takeaway.com currently operates in 11 countries across Europe and received regulatory approval to complete a $7.6 billion merger with JustEat in April.

Forrest Li who runs Sea, an online-gaming and e-commerce company, has similarly joined the ranks. Tencent and private equity firm General Atlantic are among its major stakeholders.

The COVID-19 Response

As the global economy contends with a loss of confidence and job losses, some of the world’s richest people are stepping up to the plate.
Billionaires with COVID-19 donations

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is donating roughly 25% of his net worth to COVID-19 in the form of Square stock, valued at $1B.

His donation, which was placed in a donor-advised fund called Start Small LLC, is more than four times higher than any other billionaire. That said, after the pandemic, Dorsey also stated that this money may also go towards girl’s health and education, as well as universal basic income (UBI).

RankNameCOVID-19-Related Donation% of Net Worth
#1Jack Dorsey$1B25.6%
#2Bill & Melinda Gates$255M0.2%
#3Azim Premji$132M2.2%
#4Andrew Forrest$100M+1.2%+
#5Jeff Bezos$100M0.1%
#6Michael Dell$100M0.4%
#7Lynn Schusterman, Stacy Schusterman$70M2.1%
#8Amancio Ortega$68M0.1%
#9Nicky Oppenheimer$54.5M0.7%
#10Johann Rupert$54.5M1.1%

*As of April 15, 2020

Overall, 77 of the world’s billionaires have made public contributions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, just a fraction of the world’s ultra-rich.

As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, will the world’s billionaires still accumulate wealth at greater speeds, or will a different picture emerge as unconventional policies around the world become increasingly commonplace?

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Economy

The $16 Trillion European Union Economy

This chart shows the contributors to the EU economy through a percentage-wise distribution of country-level GDP.

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The $16 Trillion European Union Economy

The European Union has the third-largest economy in the world, accounting for one-sixth of global trade. All together, 27 member countries make up one internal market allowing free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

But how did this sui generis (a class by itself) political entity come into being?

A Brief History of the EU

After the devastating aftermath of the World War II, Western Europe saw a concerted move towards regional peace and security by promoting democracy and protecting human rights.

Crucially, the Schuman Declaration was presented in 1950. The coal and steel industries of Western Europe were integrated under common management, preventing countries from turning on each other and creating weapons of war. Six countries signed on — the eventual founders of the EU.

Here’s a list of all 27 members of the EU and the year they joined.

CountryYear of entry
🇧🇪 Belgium1958
🇫🇷 France1958
🇩🇪 Germany1958
🇮🇹 Italy1958
🇱🇺 Luxembourg1958
🇳🇱 Netherlands1958
🇩🇰 Denmark1973
🇮🇪 Ireland1973
🇬🇷 Greece1981
🇵🇹 Portugal1986
🇪🇸 Spain1986
🇦🇹 Austria1995
🇫🇮 Finland1995
🇸🇪 Sweden1995
🇨🇾 Cyprus2004
🇨🇿 Czechia2004
🇪🇪 Estonia2004
🇭🇺 Hungary2004
🇱🇻 Latvia2004
🇱🇹 Lithuania2004
🇲🇹 Malta2004
🇵🇱 Poland2004
🇸🇰 Slovakia2004
🇸🇮 Slovenia2004
🇧🇬 Bulgaria2007
🇷🇴 Romania2007
🇭🇷 Croatia2013

Greater economic and security cooperation followed over the next four decades, along with the addition of new members. These tighter relationships disincentivized conflict, and Western Europe—after centuries of constant war—has seen unprecedented peace for the last 80 years.

The modern version of the EU can trace its origin to 1993, with the adoption of the name, ‘the European Union,’ the birth of a single market, and the promise to use a single currency—the euro.

Since then the EU has become an economic and political force to reckon with. Its combined gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $16.6 trillion in 2022, after the U.S. ($26 trillion) and China ($19 trillion.)

ℹ️ GDP is a broad indicator of the economic activity within a country. It measures the total value of economic output—goods and services—produced within a given time frame by both the private and public sectors.

Front Loading the EU Economy

For the impressive numbers it shows however, the European Union’s economic might is held up by three economic giants, per data from the International Monetary Fund. Put together, the GDPs of Germany ($4 trillion), France ($2.7 trillion) and Italy ($1.9 trillion) make up more than half of the EU’s entire economic output.

These three countries are also the most populous in the EU, and together with Spain and Poland, account for 66% of the total population of the EU.

Here’s a table of all 27 member states and the percentage they contribute to the EU’s gross domestic product.

RankCountry GDP (Billion USD)% of the EU Economy
1.🇩🇪 Germany4,031.124.26%
2.🇫🇷 France2,778.116.72%
3.🇮🇹 Italy1,997.012.02%
4.🇪🇸 Spain1,390.08.37%
5.🇳🇱 Netherlands990.65.96%
6.🇵🇱 Poland716.34.31%
7.🇸🇪 Sweden603.93.64%
8.🇧🇪 Belgium589.53.55%
9.🇮🇪 Ireland519.83.13%
10.🇦🇹 Austria468.02.82%
11.🇩🇰 Denmark386.72.33%
12.🇷🇴 Romania299.91.81%
13.🇨🇿 Czechia295.61.78%
14.🇫🇮 Finland281.41.69%
15.🇵🇹 Portugal255.91.54%
16.🇬🇷 Greece222.01.34%
17.🇭🇺 Hungary184.71.11%
18.🇸🇰 Slovakia112.40.68%
19.🇧🇬 Bulgaria85.00.51%
20.🇱🇺 Luxembourg82.20.49%
21.🇭🇷 Croatia69.40.42%
22.🇱🇹 Lithuania68.00.41%
23.🇸🇮 Slovenia62.20.37%
24.🇱🇻 Latvia40.60.24%
25.🇪🇪 Estonia39.10.24%
26.🇨🇾 Cyprus26.70.16%
27.🇲🇹 Malta17.20.10%
Total16,613.1100%

The top-heaviness continues. By adding Spain ($1.3 trillion) and the Netherlands ($990 billion), the top five make up nearly 70% of the EU’s GDP. That goes up to 85% when the top 10 countries are included.

That means less than half of the 27 member states make up $14 trillion of the $16 trillion EU economy.

Older Members, Larger Share

Aside from the most populous members having bigger economies, another pattern emerges, with the time the country has spent in the EU.

Five of the six founders of the EU—Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium—are in the top 10 biggest economies of the EU. Ireland and Denmark, the next entrants into the union (1973) are ranked 9th and 11th respectively. The bottom 10 countries all joined the EU post-2004.

The UK—which joined the bloc in 1973 and formally left in 2020—would have been the second-largest economy in the region at $3.4 trillion.

Sectoral Analysis of the EU

The EU has four primary sectors of economic output: services, industry, construction, and agriculture (including fishing and forestry.) Below is an analysis of some of these sectors and the countries which contribute the most to it. All figures are from Eurostat.

Services and Tourism

The EU economy relies heavily on the services sector, accounting for more than 70% of the value added to the economy in 2020. It also is the sector with the highest share of employment in the EU, at 73%.

In Luxembourg, which has a large financial services sector, 87% of the country’s gross domestic product came from the services sector.

Tourism economies like Malta and Cyprus also had an above 80% share of services in their GDP.

Industry

Meanwhile 20% of the EU’s gross domestic product came from industry, with Ireland’s economy having the most share (40%) in its GDP. Czechia, Slovenia and Poland also had a significant share of industry output.

Mining coal and lignite in the EU saw a brief rebound in output in 2021, though levels continued to be subdued.

RankSector% of the EU Economy
1.Services72.4%
2.Industry20.1%
3.Construction5.6%
4.Agriculture, forestry and fishing1.8%

Agriculture

Less than 2% of the EU’s economy relies on agriculture, forestry and fishing. Romania, Latvia, and Greece feature as contributors to this sector, however the share in total output in each country is less than 5%. Bulgaria has the highest employment (16%) in this sector compared to other EU members.

Energy

The EU imports nearly 60% of its energy requirements. Until the end of 2021, Russia was the biggest exporter of petroleum and natural gas to the region. After the war in Ukraine that share has steadily decreased from nearly 25% to 15% for petroleum liquids and from nearly 40% to 15% for natural gas, per Eurostat.

Headwinds, High Seas

The IMF has a gloomy outlook for Europe heading into 2023. War in Ukraine, spiraling energy costs, high inflation, and stagnant wage growth means that EU leaders are facing “severe trade-offs and tough policy decisions.”

Reforms—to relieve supply constraints in the labor and energy markets—are key to increasing growth and relieving price pressures, according to the international body. The IMF projects that the EU will grow 0.7% in 2023.

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