Elon Musk, billionaire boss of Tesla and SpaceX companies, September 3, 2020 in Germany.


Patrick Pleul / AP / SIPA

The fortune of billionaires peaked during the Covid-19 pandemic, passing $ 10,000 billion thanks to the sharp rebound in the markets, even as the global economy was down.

According to a study by the Swiss bank UBS and the audit and consulting firm PWC, the cumulative fortune of billionaires amounted to no less than $ 10.2 trillion, a new record, beyond the peak of 2017. Their cumulative fortune then reached 8.9 trillion dollars.

Despite tremors during the stock market crash in March which saw some large fortunes leave this privileged club, the fortune of billionaires quickly recovered in favor in particular of the giants of technology and health.

2020, brutal crash and rapid rebound

According to the bank and the audit firm, which each year draw up an inventory of the evolution of the wealth of the super-rich in a study entitled "billionaires report", this privileged circle counted at the end of July 2,189 billionaires, i.e. 31 more than in 2017.

"For billionaires as for the economy as a whole, 2020 will remain a pivotal year," said the authors of the study.

In March, the health crisis triggered a brutal stock market crash in the face of fears for both economic growth and the risks of chain bankruptcies for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the shock on demand and employment.

The jolts rippled through billionaire fortunes, which fell 6.6% in a matter of weeks in February and March, quantified the study's authors, but then quickly caught up with the losses, rebounding 27.5% between April and the end of July with the rise of the major stock market indices.

Blooming super-rich in Asia

These figures, however, mask significant movements within the big fortunes, they warned.

In Asia-Pacific, the area that has seen the emergence of the largest number of billionaires over the past ten years, the cumulative value of their wealth fell only 2.1% between the closing of accounts in 2019 and early April, to 2.4 trillion dollars.

Some 124 people left the list, however, while 136 people saw their fortunes grow and joined the ranks of billionaires.

"Fortunes are polarizing," said the authors of the study in favor of entrepreneurs who are revolutionizing the sectors of technology, health or medical equipment, citing the example of the billionaire of South African origin Elon Musk or Chinese billionaire Zhong Huijhan, former professor of chemistry, at the head of Hansoh Pharmaceutical.

Sectors variously affected

Since 2018, the fortunes of billionaires from the ranks of tech have increased by 42.5%, with a cumulative amount estimated at $ 1.8 trillion, according to this study.

That of billionaires in the health sector grew by 50.3%, with an estimated cumulative value of $ 658.6 billion.

At the other end of the spectrum, those who find themselves "on the wrong side of economic, technological, societal and environmental trends" are seeing their fortunes dwindling.

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

A divergence between fortunes catalyzed this year by the Covid epidemic.


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