Despite the pandemic altering the way we live and work, the world’s 25 wealthiest families have profited from abundant liquidity, soaring stock markets, and tax policies that are favorable to their interests, accumulating a collective fortune of $312 billion in the last year.
Following a 22 percent rise in their combined net worth since last August, the world’s 25 richest families now have a combined net worth of $1.7 trillion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Due to Walmart’s success, the Waltons have remained wealthier than both Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, the two most successful billionaires of our generation.
In fact, the Waltons are the wealthiest family on earth, and they are also nearly $100 billion ahead of the world’s second-richest dynasty, the Mars family.
Over the previous year, the Waltons and the Mars families were among the greatest gainers as governments and central banks pumped countries with cash, driving a surge in e-commerce, comfort food, and pet-related expenditures.
A tax policy at the centre of accumulation
On the whole, given the years of policies intended to favor those at the very highest tiers of wealth, Arizona-based tax attorney and consultant for Americans for Tax Fairness, Bob Lord doesn’t think the gains come as much of a surprise.
“It’s been the perfect storm for dynastic wealth accumulation.”
The attorney believes at the core of this accumulation is tax policy, which has allowed the top 0.001 percent of the income distribution to pay “absurdly” low income tax rates, allowed for massive inheritance tax loopholes, and facilitated a continuous decrease in corporation tax rates.
Families from all industries and locations
In general, the families that made the Bloomberg list come from a variety of sectors and geographical locations. Increasing internet trading activity has benefited the Johnsons family of Fidelity Investments, which is headquartered in Boston.
Meanwhile, the Ambanis, Asia’s wealthiest family, profited from a shift to green and digital technologies, while the world’s largest luxury fortunes, whose prospects seemed bleak in the midst of the global health crisis, saw the most significant gains. Conversely, the value of the Hermes family, which owns the Paris-based company, has increased by 75% to $112 billion.
The list does not include first-generation billionaires and is not definitive. For example, certain families’ riches, such as the Rockefellers’, are so dispersed that it is difficult to trace down all of their holdings.
Democrats propose targeting the rich
Nevertheless, in the United States, President Biden and Democrats have suggested a range of measures to target the wealthy, including increased capital gains and income tax rates, as well as new regulations that would make it more difficult to transfer assets to heirs tax-free in some circumstances.
It is not a new phenomenon to see people react negatively to rising inequality. Nonetheless, as the epidemic has widened the chasm, it has precipitated a flurry of attempts from Beijing to Washington to tax the ultra-wealthy, including targeting large corporations, investment income, and inherited wealth.