Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2722

Billionaires are still cashing in on the Coronavirus crisis

This article is over 3 years, 8 months old
Issue 2722
Jeff Bezos
the laughing billionaire Jeff Bezos (Pic: Wikipedia)

“Pandemic be damned”. That’s the message from Forbes, which calls itself “the defining voice of ­entrepreneurial capitalism.”

It reported last week that “America’s super‑rich are doing better than ever”.

The aggregate wealth of Forbes’ top 400 list is £2.5 trillion. That’s up 8 ­percent from a year ago and a record in the four decades it has tracked the richest Americans’ fortunes.

Ordinary people in the US face rampant coronavirus, mass unemployment, and reduced wages.

But for those at the top it’s boom time.

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, remains in the top spot for the third ­consecutive year. Bezos’ fortune of £138 billion, as of 24 July, is up 57 percent from last year.

Since then Forbes reported in late August that Bezos’ net worth reached a ­record-breaking £160 billion, with Bezos the first person in history to reach this obscene milestone. Others to profit from the pandemic include one of the newcomers on this year’s list—Eric Yuan, chief executive of Zoom Video Communications, with a net worth of £8 billion.

“The remarkable growth in fortunes of The Forbes 400 stands out at a time of pandemic-induced ­economic upheaval,” said

Kerry A Dolan, assistant ­managing editor of Wealth at Forbes.

“Much of the wealth is highly concentrated.

“The top 21 richest on the list—there is a tie at number 20—account for 42 percent of the total wealth.”

A record 233 US ­billionaires did not make the cut this year, falling short of the £1.6 billion minimum needed to make the list.

As the Forbes’ report was published, it was revealed that Amazon’s main British business paid only 3 percent more tax last year.

This was despite a 35 ­percent rise in profits to nearly £102 million.

Super-yachts safe haven in pandemic

The super-rich of Monaco have been denied their Formula One Grand Prix and their Masters tennis tournament because of the pandemic.

But don’t feel too sorry for them. “When the world is so affected by Covid-19 we have no right to rejoice,” said one of the principality’s private bankers. “But we will have a very good year.”

The tax haven home of retail tycoon Philip Green, Jim Ratcliffe of chemicals group Ineos and racing driver Lewis Hamilton is booming.

Monte Carlo in Monaco

Monte Carlo in Monaco (Pic: Wikipedia)

As the Financial Times newspaper said, “The pandemic has plunged economies into recession but the strong performance of global financial markets has in many cases increased the wealth of the ultra‑rich, and highlighted the attractions of bolt-holes such as Monaco.” Monaco’s attractions are “personal safety through strict policing and video surveillance as well as financial protection and excellent healthcare”.

Herve Ordioni heads a committee for the promotion of Monaco as a financial centre and is also chief executive of the local operation of Edmond de Rothschild.

He said his staff had to deal with six times as much trading as normal during the lockdown. “It was massive,” he said. “We had an unbelievable amount of activity.”

The super-yacht sector on which Monaco partly depends is humming too.

Bernard d’Alessandri, secretary-general of the yacht club, says the pandemic has severely disrupted the Mediterranean charter business this season.

Super-yachts can cost as much as £600,000 a week to rent.

But sales are holding up because the very wealthy can still afford to buy and are increasingly searching for “a place of refuge” in uncertain times.

  • The government’s benefits department has been rapped by the Health and Safety Executive. The Department for Work and Pensions had “insufficient” social distancing at its Leeds office, an investigation found.

Photos showed staff congregating round a computer screen. And there was a thin walkway that passed close to desks where people could work.

  • A Tory council has given £50,000 to support despised hunters through the Covid crisis. MPs and campaigners have slammed Shropshire County Council’s “disgraceful” use of public funds. The businesses receiving funds are drag hunts. The council has declined to disclose the hunts involved—classed as businesses under the government’s emergency rate relief scheme.

Trump lied over virus and 190,000 have died

US President Donald Trump admitted that he may have misled the public about the threat Covid-19—but he said he had good reasons. He told journalist Bob Woodward he had downplayed the virus threat.

Asked if he had misled the public, the president said, “Well, I think if you said in order to reduce panic, perhaps that’s so.”

He added, “The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic.”

Later he said, “If you look at our numbers, our fatality numbers compared to other countries, it’s amazing what we’ve done. Especially with the country the size we have, we’ve done an incredible job.”

Coronavirus-related deaths in the US—which stand at more than 190,000—account for a fifth of the global total. It is equivalent to one death per 1,700 Americans.

The US has one of the highest fatality rates per 100,000 population.

Tory election fraudster faces jail over forms

A Tory party election agent who forged candidate nomination forms in the 2018 local elections is facing jail.

Diana Danescu obtained voters’ signatures by posing as a representative from the Labour Party and the Green Party—or by just forging them.

She carried out the offences when working as an election agent for

29 Conservative candidates in the Hackney council elections.

One resident found her own name listed as an assentor for three Tory candidates, and they “would certainly not have supported the Tory candidate”, the court was told.

When an election agent for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition was found guilty of a similar offence he was jailed for 15 months.

It will be interesting to see what the Tory gets.

‘We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that’

  • US president Donald Trump vowing to crush any ‘riots’ that occur should he win the election

‘Look, it’s called insurrection. We just send in, we do it very easy’’

  • Donald Trump continued his war against grammar

‘This is obviously proving difficult because he is his son and it’s playing down his role in the royal family.’

  • A palace spokesperson explains how they are ‘airbrushing’ Prince Andrew out of the celebrations of Prince Phillip’s 100th birthday

‘We are extremely sorry’

Arcadia Group, owned by Phillip Green which has taken millions of furlough money reverses its decision to under pay staff facing job cuts

‘Its a bit problematic if you are on a Zoom call’

Claire Longworth, from bird rescue charity Birdline, which has seen a dramatic rise in parrots put up for adoption

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance