The wealthy are struggling, comparatively speaking.
According to the annual ranking from Forbes Magazine that lists the world’s wealthiest people, the number of billionaires worldwide fell by 329 to 2,668 in 2021. The total value of their assets also fell from the $13.1t reported the previous year to $12.7t.
What’s the cause of that?
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the sanctions that followed it, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, are thought to be largely to blame for the loss of fortune. For instance, 34 Russian billionaires fell from the list after the Russian stock market and rouble crashed, and their combined wealth dropped by over $260b.
How do they stand on the list now?
Elon Musk retains the first spot, after he overtook Jeff Bezos as the richest man alive, with a $219b fortune to Bezos’s $171b. Bezos’s ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, who made headlines recently for her generous donations to both Habitat for Humanity and Planned Parenthood, saw her fortune drop by $12.5b, and she scooted from the 22nd-richest spot to the 30th. The release of the Forbes list, however, earned its honorees some backlash.
Millionaires for Humanity, a coalition of rich people campaigning for a global wealth tax on the super-rich to tackle inequality, called it a “slap in the face of society” and “a stark reminder of the obscenely unequal world in which we live.” Forbes said the drop in billionaires, though not exactly tragic from the perspective of an average earner, is the largest decrease since the 2009 financial crisis, a possible portent of things to come.