“Top 20” richest in Australia soared further in wealth during the pandemic
June 2, 2020
In the midst of a worsening global pandemic COVID-19, while people working in Australia face extreme financial difficulties, the accumulation of people’s wealth in the hands of a small elite is accelerating.
Along with mass unemployment and underemployment, the combined wealth controlled by the 20 richest people surged. That Financial Review of Australia reported last Friday that the “Top 20” has “enjoyed an increase in cumulative wealth over the past year from $ 143 billion to $ 189 billion, a 32 percent increase at the time of stagnation in wages for most workers.”
The newspaper Chanticleer column celebrates the fact that a handful of rich people recovered or profited from the COVID-19 disaster far more quickly than they experienced from the 2008-09 global economic disruption.
“Crisis? What crisis?” Chanticleer asked. “It took more than 12 months for the wealth of 20 of Australia’s richest people to recover after the financial crisis. But COVID-19 barely damaged the fate of this elite group. “
At the top of the list, profiting from high iron ore prices, mining heirs worth Gina Rinehart “jumped 53 percent to $ 21.2 billion, making it the richest person in Australia.”
Fellow mining figure Andrew Forrest is even better, especially because of the iron ore production problem in Brazil which was hit by a pandemic. He soared to fifth from eighth with $ 17.6 billion, a 120 percent increase, supported by a 65 percent share price increase for the Fortescue Metals Group. He also generated $ 1.4 billion in dividends over the past two years alone.
Others have benefited from the pandemic, and the surge in related stock prices, even more directly. “Lockouts around the world and home-led revolutions have pushed software developers Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar to the top three with a wealth of over $ 18 billion. [each]”The newspaper reported.
Both software entrepreneurs climbed to numbers 2 and 3 on the list because speculative investors have raised the price of US shares listed on Nasdaq, Atlassian, their company, by nearly 50 percent last year.
While this wealth is being expanded, millions of workers – 20 percent of the workforce – are unemployed or under employed, even by very poorly mentioned official statistics. Many face financial disasters and impoverishment, and are in danger of losing their homes because of the inability to pay rent or mortgage payments.
One of the most lewd examples of super rich people who have benefited from the misery of the population is the rise of two founding pay-now providers, the provider of Afterpay pay-pays, who profit by offering credit to cash-strapped households.
“Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen, so far this year, are the biggest winners of those on the Financial Review Rich List,” the newspaper reported.
After initially experiencing a stock crash when the global lockdown began, their wealth turned around when the government launched a large and unprecedented business bailout. “Afterpay has the Lazarus moment. Its shares hit a record high of $ 50 this week, appreciating the shareholding held by the two founders each of more than $ 1 billion. “
Due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic still spreading and the increasing US confrontation with China, the financial newspaper postponed its annual 200 Rich List until the end of this year. One of the biggest doubts hangs in the future of lucrative exports to China, including iron ore, when the Trump administration is stepping up its steps towards Beijing.
However, the results for the 20 richest people so far are enough to illustrate the extraordinary concentration of wealth since governments around the world saved the financial elite after the 2008 global economic collapse.
The 20 people on the list are far more privileged than the top 1 percent. They represent a smaller fraction – 0.00008 percent – of the population.
Between 1990 and 2000, the total value of the 20 richest members on the Rich List grew by 221 percent. In the following decade, the same number rose 99 percent. But between 2010 and 2020, the wealth of the top 20 grew 235 percent.
Even within this layer, the top five of the Rich List command a growing portion of the wealth of the Top 20. In 2015, the most prosperous quintet represented 30 percent of the combined wealth of the $ 20 billion Top 20. By 2020, the top five accounted for half of the total $ 20 billion of the Top 20.
This year’s Top 20 results were achieved even though nine out of 20 experienced a decline in wealth, due to a pandemic. They include the shopping center barons Frank Lowy and John Gandel, Crown Resorts’ main shareholder James Packer and the richest property billionaire, Harry Triguboff, Lang Walker. Declining rental rates and property prices reduce their pre-pandemic valuation.
The astronomical surge in wealth at the hands of a handful of people began to take off four decades ago, driven by the pro-corporate economic restructuring imposed by the Hawke and Keating Labor governments, which work in close partnership with trade unions.
When the Rich List was launched in 1984, the first full year of the Hawke administration, the 200 richest people had a combined fortune of $ 6.4 billion. Now the top 20 alone can last 30 times.
The Top 20 list is just the latest evidence that social polarization has widened since the 2008-09 accident. A Roy Morgan survey last year showed that people in the top 10 percent gained more than 60 percent increase in wealth between 2007 and 2019. They rose from an average of $ 1.2 million to nearly $ 2 million per person, while 50 percent the bottom of the retreating population, marking a historical decline in living standards.
Apart from the many myths being peddled that Australia is a relatively egalitarian country, the concentration of wealth is in line with the trend of global capitalism, which is increasingly dominated by a handful of oligarchs. According to the charity Oxfam, the 26 richest billionaires on the planet have as many as 3.8 billion people in the poorest part of the world’s population.
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