Billionaire fortunes reach new heights during pandemic

Canadian billionaires filled their pockets even more, as elsewhere in the world, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, in particular because of the recovery in the stock markets.

• Read also: Amazon benefits even more from the pandemic than expected

This is according to a study published Wednesday and carried out by the Swiss wealth management bank UBS and the audit and advisory firm PWC.

This year alone, the total wealth of Canadian billionaires reached US $ 178.5 billion. For 2019, it was valued at US $ 144.1 billion, compared to US $ 52.8 billion in 2009.

The study notes that the fortunes of these ultra-rich Canadians jumped by no less than 238% between 2009 and 2020. In doing so, Canadian billionaires rank third in terms of increasing their wealth, behind China (+ 1146%) and France (+ 439%).

However, Canada ranks 9th for the total fortune of its billionaires, a far cry from the US $ 3,608 billion shared by American billionaires.

The study indicates that between April 7 and July 31, the combined fortunes of the super-rich grew 36% to reach US $ 3.3 trillion. In the same period, there were 221 new billionaires, 91% of whom are women, AFP reported.

In total, this study, published each year, identifies no less than 2,189 billionaires at the end of July, 31 more than in 2017. Their cumulative fortune was around US $ 10,200 billion, which is more than the previous record of 2017 when it had peaked at US $ 8.9 trillion.

Tech is getting richer

“Fortunes are polarizing,” said the study’s authors.

According to their research, investments in fast-growing fields such as technology and healthcare in particular have proven to be drivers of wealth.

Global stock markets have rallied since the start of the pandemic after many governments launched unprecedented stimulus packages in an attempt to offset the impact of COVID-19 measures.

Thus, as of July 2020, the fortunes of billionaires from the tech sector had grown by 42.5% since the start of 2018, with a cumulative amount estimated at US $ 1.8 trillion, largely due to the increase of the value of their shares. Those in the health sector jumped 50.3% with an estimated cumulative value of $ 658.6 billion.

By comparison, the net worth of billionaires in industries such as entertainment, financial services, materials or real estate grew by only 10% or less.

Meanwhile, the study insists that billionaires have “become more active in the world of philanthropy, corporate responsibility and sustainable investing.”

Some data from the study

  • The fortunes of the ultra-rich Canadians jumped 238% between 2009 and 2020
  • The cumulative fortune of billionaires was around US $ 10,200 billion, as of July 2020
  • There were 2,189 billionaires on the planet at the end of July
  • 209 ultra-rich publicly donated US $ 7.2 billion between March and June 2020, a record amount propelled upwards by the pandemic.

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