The US has lost 500,000 millionaires since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, as the economy continues to be battered by the fallout of the deadly virus.
As ordinary Americans find themselves jobless overnight, new research shows that the richest of the rich are also feeling the heat from the virus on their finances.
The world’s richest 500 people have lost almost $1.3 trillion collectively since the start of the year.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and LVMH’s Bernard Arnault have seen their billions dwindle compared to this time last year – but Amazon Jess Bezos has bucked the trend, raking in more money after he rapidly offloaded stocks last month before the pandemic reached more extreme heights.
Microsoft boss Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, (left) has seen $18 billion wiped off his wealth since March 24 last year and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (right) has waved goodbye to $16.6 billion
Fears are mounting over the spread of coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases in the US reaches almost 54,000 and deaths caused by the disease top 700.
But the economic fallout has been just as worrying – and it is impacting people of all income levels.
The number of US households with a net worth between $1 million and $5 million plummeted between the close of 2019 to March 20, according to research firm Spectrem Group.
At the end of the year, and before the pandemic reached US soil, there were 11 million American millionaires, the highest level recorded.
American philanthropist Warren Buffet (left) has lost $19.1 billion. Among the top 10, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault (right) has taken the biggest hit, seeing a staggering $35.2 billion knocked off his wealth
Fast forward less than three months and 500,000 have fallen below this income level.
The number of $25 million-plus American households fell by almost 10 percent, from 196,000 at the end of 2019 to 178,000 as of March 20, and those with a wealth in the region of $5 million to $25 million were cut by 5 percent from 1,520,000 to 1,440,000 in the timeframe.
‘Record levels of investor wealth at the end of 2019 reflected the strong growth from the bull market which ran throughout the year,’ said Spectrem President George H. Walper Jr.
‘The past few months have painted a different picture, as financial markets have fallen dramatically in reaction to the coronavirus and the global collapse of oil prices. Our updated model in March reflects how these declines are translating into lower net worth across each wealth segment.’
The toll has been felt most among the very richest, with the world’s richest 500 people losing $1.3 trillion since the start of 2020, equal to 22 percent of their total net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has bucked the trend and actually added another $4.52 billion to his billions. This comes as it emerged he offloaded billions in shares just in time before the coronavirus pandemic slashed values
For the 180 Americans on the ranking, they have lost $433 billion of their riches.
And it’s taking its toll on the richest people in the world, with the Bloomberg Billionaires Index showing that the top 10 have significantly less in their wallets since this time last year.
Microsoft boss Bill Gates, the second richest man in the world, has seen $18 billion wiped off his wealth since March 24 last year.
American philanthropist Warren Buffet has lost $19.1 billion and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has waved goodbye to $16.6 billion.
Among the top 10, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault has taken the biggest hit, seeing a staggering $35.2 billion knocked off his wealth.
However, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has bucked the trend and actually added another $4.52 billion to his billions.
This comes as it emerged Tuesday that Bezos was one of a number of top business executive who offloaded billions in shares just in time before the coronavirus pandemic slashed their company values, saving themselves billions.
Executives at top US traded companies sold around $9.2 billion in shares of their own companies between the start of February and the end of last week, analysis from the Wall Street Journal revealed.
The quick move looks to have saved them billions, as they ditched them just before the markets plummeted.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos was by far the biggest seller, offloading $3.4 billion in shares in the first week of February, saving him a staggering $317 million than if he had kept the stock through to March 20.
It also saw the billionaire sell as much stock in that one week as he has in the last year, the Journal reported.
The sale accounted for around 3% of Bezos’s total Amazon shares and made up over a third of all stock exchange sales during this timeframe.
Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, also acted to offload stock as the US geared up for the coronavirus to reach new heights, selling $25 million of his company shares on February 14, saving himself potential losses of more than $9.3 million.
The boss of IHS Markit, Lance Uggla, also sold $47 million of his shares around February 19, which would by now have plummeted by $19.2 million.
More than 150 top bosses who sold at least $1 million worth of stock in February and March had not sold any stock in the last 12 months, the Journal found.
James Murren, outgoing CEO of MGM Resorts International which like the rest of the hotel industry has been hard hit by the global outbreak, sold $22.2 million of his company’s stock on February 19 and 20, before it fell by $15.9 million.
One month later on March 22, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said Murren would lead the state’s response to the crisis.
There is no suggestion that the selling of shares by any of the executives was done due to information about the coronavirus pandemic.
How Senators offloaded shares to save their personal wealth while reassuring the public the outbreak was under control
However, sales made in this timeframe dwarfed the sales of $6.4 billion made in the same period in 2019.
Top bosses aren’t the only ones who jumped to salvage their own wealth as the mounting pandemic threatened to hit the economy.
It emerged at the weekend that the CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, sold $3.5 million of his own shares just days before the first reported US death from the coronavirus.
Jeffrey Sprecher, the husband of junior Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, offloaded the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) shares on February 26 – before the shares plunged by nearly 25 percent.
Senator Kelly Loeffler, her husband Jeffrey Sprecher and Vice President Mike Pence in January. Sprecher offloaded Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) shares on February 26 – before the shares plunged by nearly 25 percent
Sprecher sold the stocks for an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Sprecher and his wife Loeffler also sold $15.3 million worth of ICE shares on March 11, at an average price of about $87, according to the SEC filings.
Loeffler has been accused of corruption after it emerged that she sold off $3.1 million in stocks in the days after she attended a coronavirus briefing for senators on January 24.
A number of other US senators were exposed last week after they appeared to offload stock while reassuring the public everything was under control.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr sold up to $1.7 million worth of stock on February 13 in 33 separate transactions after offering public assurances the government was ready to battle the virus. His financial filings were first reported by ProPublica.
Burr has agreed to be questioned by the Senate Ethics Committee over the move.
Republican Senator James Inhofe and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein also sold stock, according to filings, but both said they were not involved in the transactions.
Inhofe said he has divested most of his stock and is not involved in investment decisions. Feinstein’s money is in a blind trust.
While the rich manage to stay rich, ordinary workers across the US increasingly find themselves jobless overnight.
More than 37 million jobs could be lost in the US over the coming months due to the toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the nation’s businesses, with food and beverages workers hardest hit
More than 37 million workers could lose their jobs in the short term due to the toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on the nation’s businesses, according to the US Private Sector Job Quality Index, Cornell University Law School’s project.
These shock estimates mean around a quarter of the current working population will find themselves out of work in the near future.
Low-paid, hourly workers are expected to be hardest hit, meaning it is those who can least afford to lose their jobs who face the biggest risk, the research finds.
A staggering 35.2 million low-wage and low-hour jobs, with a weekly average income of under $800, are vulnerable to being laid off right now, compared with just 1.9 million high-wage jobs.
The bleak outlook comes as state shutdowns have been ramping up across the nation, forcing restaurants, bars, retailers and hotel groups to shut up shop and lay off workers, as officials desperately try to slow the spread of the killer virus.
A pizza restaurant in New York is boarded up. Restaurant and food industry workers are most at risk, with more than 10 million jobs expected to be lost in the sector, the report shows
New York City’s iconic Strand bookstore became one of the latest victims this week, as it announced it had been left with no choice but to lay off 89 percent of its workforce after being ordered to shut under state Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order.
Meanwhile airline Westjet announced it is letting almost half of its 14,000 staff go to try to stabilize the company during this time.
Workers are hoping the federal relief package will provide some aid for those newly unemployed.
A deal on the stimulus bill was announced just after 1am on Wednesday, after politicians had struggled to come together over the bill.
The bill, which is expected to be voted on today, will send $1,200 checks to many Americans in a one-time payment.
It should also provide a welcome boost to some businesses, including a $367 billion loan program for small businesses and $500 billion for industries.