Jeff Bezos (Photo: cnbc.com)

Jeff Bezos is first person ever with US$200 billion net worth

Jeff Bezos (Photo: cnbc.com)

Three of the world’s richest people have achieved staggering new levels of personal wealth.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos saw his net worth top US$200 billion yesterday as share price for Amazon soared. (Photo: Bloomberg)

The net worth of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos eclipsed US$200 billion on Wednesday as shares of the e-commerce giant climbed to a record. The move simultaneously pushed his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, 50, to the brink of becoming the world’s richest woman, just behind L’Oreal SA heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers.

Elon Musk, meanwhile, extended an extraordinary stretch of wealth gains to become a centibillionaire. Tesla Inc. shares rallied Wednesday, pushing his net worth to US$101 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a listing of the world’s 500 richest people.

Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott (right) has also seen her net worth increase to put her among the world’s wealthiest as value of her Amazon stock from their divorce settlement continues to increase. (File photo)

The gains by Bezos, 56, and Musk represent just the latest high water mark for wealth accumulation in a topsy-turvy year defined by both surging markets and catastrophic human and economic loss. The world’s 500 richest people have gained US$809 billion so far this year, a 14 per cent increase since January, even as a global pandemic caused a record drop in gross domestic product and millions of lost jobs.

Income Inequality
The rising income inequality has provoked sharp responses from many progressive politicians and critics on the left. US Senator Bernie Sanders earlier this month introduced legislation to tax ‘extreme’ wealth gains during the coronavirus crisis.

US Senator Bernie Sanders yesterday said billionaires cannot continue to becoem obscenely rich even as millions of Americans suffer. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“We cannot continue to allow billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to become obscenely rich while millions of Americans face eviction, hunger and economic desperation,” Sanders said Wednesday in a statement. “It’s time to fundamentally change our national priorities.”

Others view their massive wealth as justified, saying they’ve earned it through the creation of singular businesses.
The surge in wealth is especially concentrated in the upper ranks of the billionaires index and has been fuelled largely by tech stocks, which have been on a tear as the pandemic drives more people online. That also includes a rise in the number of retail investors buying stocks.