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The Rich Got Richer During COVID-19. Here’s How American Billionaires Performed

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American Billionaires During COVID

The Briefing

  • In year defined by a global pandemic, many of the wealthiest people in the U.S. saw their wealth grow substantially
  • Since the market bottom in March 2020, the billionaires on this list grew their wealth by 57% on average
  • Elon Musk had the highest net worth increase at $128.9 billion

How American Billionaire Wealth Did During COVID-19

We’ve all been affected by the pandemic-induced mayhem of 2020. But when it comes to finances, some have fared far better than others.

While job loss persists for Americans making less than $20 an hour, the rich have gotten richer. More specifically, the most wealthy American billionaires have seen their net worth bounce back dramatically, thanks to strong stock market performance.

Here’s a look at who’s gotten richer since the market bottom in March 2020, and just how much their net worth has increased since then:

Billionaire Net Worth Growth in 2020

Between March’s market bottom and December 2020, the billionaires included on this list grew their wealth by 57% on average. Interestingly, that’s about 10 percentage points higher than the overall growth of the S&P 500 index during the same time period.

NameMain SourceWealth Growth
(Mar 18–Dec 21, 2020)
Net worth % Growth
(Mar 18– Dec 21, 2020)
Jeff BezosAmazon$73.7 B65%
Elon MuskTesla, SpaceX$128.9 B524%
Bill GatesMicrosoft$ 22.1 B23%
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook$46.8 B86%
Warren BuffettBerkshire Hathaway$17.5 B26%
Larry EllisonOracle$29.5 B50%
Larry PageGoogle$25.4 B50%
Sergey BrinGoogle$25.0 B51%
Steve BallmerMicrosoft$21.4 B41%
Alice WaltonWalmart$13.7 B25%
Jim WaltonWalmart$13.3 B24%
Rob WaltonWalmart$13.5 B25%
MacKenzie ScottAmazon$20.5 B57%
Michael BloombergBloomberg LP$6.9 B14%
Phil KnightNike$22.1 B75%
Total Average$480.3 B57%

Elon Musk saw the highest increase during this period, with a $129 billion boost in net worth—that’s a whopping 523% in gains.

This makes sense considering the year Musk has had. Tesla’s market value has skyrocketed throughout 2020, and SpaceX’s long term valuation doubled after making some monumental strides in the private space industry.

Jeff Bezos saw the second highest growth in net worth with a $74 billion increase. This isn’t surprising, given that Amazon’s stock price has climbed 69% since the beginning of 2020.

But Amazon hasn’t been the only company to benefit from the accelerated e-commerce market—other retailers, like Nike, have also seen a significant boost in online sales this year as well.

Billionaire Wealth in General is Up

It’s not just the billionaires on this list that have increased their wealth. In fact, during the pandemic, billionaire wealth on average has increased 27% worldwide. Growth has been exceptionally strong in tech and healthcare.

Will things level out post-pandemic, or will the wealth gap continue to grow?

Where does this data come from?

Source: Forbes and Yahoo Finance.
Details: Net worth figures for March 2020 were pulled from Forbes 34th annual List of Global Billionaires. Figures for Dec 2020 were taken from Forbes’ Real Time Billionaires List on Dec 21 2020.

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Datastream

The U.S. Share of the Global Economy Over Time

As of 2019, the U.S. made up almost a quarter of the global economy. This chart shows how the U.S. Share of the global GDP has changed over time.

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us share of global gdp

The Briefing

  • The U.S. share of the global economy has nearly halved since 1960
  • America’s nominal GDP in current U.S. dollars is $21.4 trillion, or about 24% of the share of the global economy

The World’s Largest Economy

The U.S. is the world’s largest economy by nominal GDP, and its influence on the global economy is quite remarkable.

As of 2019, the U.S. made up almost a quarter of the global economy. But how has America’s share of the economic pie changed over time?

The U.S. Share of the Global Economy Over Time

While the U.S. economy has grown quickly over time, the global economy has grown quicker.

Since peaking at 40% in 1960, the U.S. share of the world economy has been cut almost in half, despite a rising national GDP and being the birthplace of some of the biggest companies on the planet.

YearGlobal GDPU.S. GDPU.S. Share of Global Economy
1960$1.37T$0.53T40%
1965$1.97T$0.74T38%
1970$2.96T$1.07T36%
1975$5.92T$1.69T28%
1980$11.23T$2.86T25%
1985$12.79T$4.34T34%
1990$22.63T$5.96T26%
1995$30.89T$7.64T25%
2000$33.62T$10.25T30%
2005$47.53T$13.04T28%
2010$66.13T$14.99T23%
2015$75.22T$18.23T24%
2019$87.80T$21.43T24%

The decline of America’s contribution to global GDP has been slow and uneven, with crests and troughs along the way.

Between 1965 and 1980, the country’s share fell by 13 percentage points, mainly due to stagflation of the 1970s. This decline was followed by Reaganomics and a period of strong recovery, which helped propel the U.S. share of the global economy back up to 34% by 1985.

The whipsawing would continue. Between 1985 and 1995, the U.S share fell by another 11 percentage points, only to bounce back to a local peak of 30% by the year 2000.

Downhill From Here?

Since the beginning of the 21st century, growth in many developing markets has continued at a rapid pace—and the U.S. share of the global economy has decreased as a result.

Until 2005, the U.S. still accounted for 28% of global GDP, but the Global Financial Crisis left a big dent, and its share fell to 23% by 2010. It has since remained relatively stable at 24%.

It’s important to put this decline into perspective. For instance, China’s share of the global economy grew from 4% in 1960 to 16.3% in 2019. Over that same time period, other countries like South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and India also saw their emergence on the economic world stage, as well.

What the Future Holds

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the course of the global economy, with most countries experiencing a recession in 2020. America’s economic position will depend on how quickly it can recover compared to the rest of the world.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The World Bank
Details: Data is in current U.S. dollars. Dollar figures for GDP are converted from domestic currencies using single year official exchange rates.

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America’s Most Responsible Companies in 2021

Which American companies are leading the way when it comes to corporate responsibility? Here’s a look at 2021’s most responsible companies.

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America's Most Responsible Corporations

The Briefing

  • Overall, HP was rated the most responsible American company in 2021
  • When it came to environmental initiatives, Waters took the top spot. The biotech company has committed to reducing its emissions by 35% from its 2016 levels
  • General Motors received the top score in social responsibility—it’s the only major U.S. company with both a female CEO and CFO
  • In the corporate governance category, Qualcomm placed first. The company runs a number of education programs to help engage women and minorities in STEM related-fields

America’s Most Responsible Companies in 2021

Consumers are becoming increasingly more thoughtful about the brands they support and buy from. In the U.S. and UK, 68% of online consumers would or might stop buying from a brand with weak corporate responsibility practices.

Because of this, companies need to ensure their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are up to snuff in order to be competitive.

With this in mind, here’s a look at the top 20 most responsible companies in America, and what they’ve been doing to give back to their communities.

The Top 20 Most Responsible Companies

Newsweek and Statista used a four-step methodology to identify America’s most responsible companies. The process included a pre-screening, as well as in-depth CSR document review, and a consumer survey.

From there, companies were given a score out of 100 and ranked accordingly. With a score of 93.2, HP placed first as America’s most responsible company:

RankCompanyOverall Score (out of 100)
1HP93.2
2NVIDIA92.7
3Microsoft91.9
4Cisco Systems91.7
5Qualcomm91.5
6General Mills91.3
7Whirlpool91.3
8Illumina90.9
9Citigroup89.5
10Dell Technologies89.4
11Lam Research88.8
12General Motors88.7
13American Express88.5
14Nielsen88.4
15Mettler-Toledo International88.3
16MetLife88.2
17Merck & Co88.1
18International Flavors & Fragrances88.0
19Waters87.7
20Intel87.4

In its 2019 Sustainable Impact Report, HP outlined how it’s been working to drive sustainability in three key areas—the planet, people, and community. And the company has made some impressive progress. For instance, in 2019 it used over 1 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic in its products.

It’s not a huge surprise that HP has taken the top spot on the list. The company is known for its innovation and progressive practices. In 2020, it was recognized as one of the top 20 most innovative organizations of the year.

Corporate Responsibility in a COVID World

The world’s continual struggle with COVID-19 has put an even larger emphasis on CSR, and the importance of supporting the community at large.

It’s no longer just the right thing to do. As consumer demand for transparency and corporate responsibility escalates, CSR practices are transitioning from a nice-to-have to a need-to-have. And organizations need to get on board before they’re left behind.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Newsweek and Statista
Notes: For more information on methodology, click here

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