The Richest in the Pandemic

By Pasqualina Curcio on September 13, 2021

art by Banksy

If the world is in recession as a consequence of the pandemic, that is, in 2020 3.5% less was produced compared to 2019 (the cake is smaller) but despite this, the rich became richer, then, without throwing many numbers around we can deduce that, the poor became poorer, which should not surprise us, on the contrary, the unequal distribution of production is what characterizes an economic, social and political system such as the one that prevails in the almost 195 member countries of the UN. We are referring of course to capitalism, the same capitalism that some say is “successful” and that is the model to follow, even though it is based on the exploitation of man by man, generating hunger, poverty and misery.

According to the report on global wealth published in June 2021 by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, in 2020 wealth increased 7.4% despite the fact that production fell. Additionally, the report states that the inequality of wealth distribution among individuals was “significantly higher than in any year of this century”. In terms of regions, the US and Canada recorded the greatest increase in wealth, 12.4%, Europe 9.2% and China 4.4%. On the other hand, in India it decreased 4.4% and in Latin America and the Caribbean it fell 11.4%.

One of the main causes of the increase in the wealth of the already rich is due to the growth of the stock markets, which have been protected by the bourgeois States that, contravening their own monetarist theories and speeches, have increased 6% the monetary mass with respect to the size of their economies (according to World Bank data, in 2019 the monetary mass in the world with respect to the GDP was 126%, in 2020 it was 133%). This greater amount of money was not destined to protect the working peoples, but was channeled to the stock exchanges to save the big capitalists before the eventual collapse of the value of their shares.

The increases in wealth in the hands of billionaires took place while the World Labor Organization reported the loss of more than 140 million jobs during 2020, the worst labor crisis in a century, and while OXFAM warned that “deaths due to hunger surpassed those caused by the virus. Estimates suggest that 11 people are probably dying every minute from extreme hunger caused by the lethal combination of conflict, Covid-19, and the climate crisis. This rate would surpass the current pandemic death rate of seven people per minute.”

Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said, “We have witnessed the largest increase in inequality since records have been kept. The deep gap between rich and poor has proven to be as lethal as the virus itself.”

The report “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020: A Change in Fortunes” published by the World Bank reads, “The job losses and deprivation resulting from the pandemic around the world are severely hitting people who are already poor and vulnerable, but, at the same time, are partially changing the profile of global poverty by generating millions of ‘new poor’.” According to the same report, as a result of Covid-19, armed conflict and climate change, 501 million people are expected to join the extreme poverty statistics and “live” on less than $5.50 a day by 2030, implying that global poverty levels in 2030 would surpass pre-pandemic levels, with 3.4 billion people living on less than $5.50 a day

The case of the United States, a country that is undoubtedly capitalist and not at all socialist, is the most outrageous in the eyes of a humanity suffering the scourge of the coronavirus. According to Forbes Magazine, in 17 months of pandemic, from March 2020 to August 2021, the rich of that country saw their wealth increase 61.7% which is equivalent to 1.8 trillion dollars; it went from 2.9 to 4.7 trillion in a context in which the national production fell 3.4% in 2020.

Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon, tops the list of billionaires in the US, his wealth increased from US$ 113,000 to US$ 187,994 million, an increase of 66.4%. He is followed by Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, whose wealth increased 612.8% during these 17 months from US$ 24.6 to US$ 175,361 million. Third on the list is Microsoft’s Bill Gates, whose wealth increased 33.3% from US$ 98,000 to US$ 130,617 million. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg increased his wealth 135.7%, from US$ 54,700 to US$ 128,936 million, just to mention a few. Incidentally, these billionaires do not even pay taxes. According to the report “Billionaire bonanza during the pandemic” published by the portal, the 25 largest US billionaires paid on average only 3.4% of their wealth growth in income taxes, several have gone years without even paying those taxes. In fact, the tax rate applied to the growth of wealth (20%) is lower than that paid by workers on their wages (37%), as is usual in a capitalist system where the bourgeoisie is always privileged and given concessions in various ways.

In the last 31 years, the rich have not stopped accumulating wealth in the U.S., it has increased 19 times ( Obviously they have been accumulating for a long time, but what is being observed in the middle of the pandemic is way beyond acceptable; one third of all the growth in the wealth of US billionaires over the last 31 years occurred in the last 17 months.

While 1% of Americans see their fortunes grow, more than 86 million workers have lost their jobs, 41 million have been sickened by the virus, and more than 670,000 have died from it. Labor income for private sector workers fell nearly 3% in real terms from mid-March 2020 to mid-January 2021. About 12 million workers lost health insurance. Between January 20 and February 20, 2021, 24 million people reported that their household had not had enough to eat in the past week. Between 7 and 11 million children live in a household where they don’t get enough to eat because they can’t fully feed themselves and 1 in 5 renters are behind on their rent (

For decades they have wanted us to believe that socialism is a failure, that it generates hunger, misery and poverty. However, everything mentioned here is done under capitalism, so it could hardly be said that it has been socialism, always besieged, sabotaged and contained by the imperial power, which has failed to guarantee a good life for humanity.

The hunger, misery and poverty in which the majority of the world’s population lives today is the exclusive responsibility of capitalism. The pandemic of this century has been given the task of exposing it.

Source: Ultimas Noticias, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English