wealth tax

Wealth of America’s richest 1% reached a record $45.9 trillion at the end of 2021

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The wealth of America’s top 1 percent, an elite group including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet, hit a record $45.9 trillion last year, more than that of the bottom 90 percent combined.

The top 1 percent added $6.5 trillion to their net worth last year as stocks and financial markets soared, according to the Federal Reserve‘s latest report on household wealth.

Meanwhile, the bottom 90 percent of the country added just $5.3 trillion in net worth, taking their collective assets to just $43 trillion, the report reveals.  

To be considered part of the top 1 percent of wealth, a household would need to have a net worth of more than $11 million — compared to the US median net worth of $122,000.

The top 1 percent added $6.5 trillion to their net worth last year, reaching a collective wealth of $45.9 trillion, according to new data

The top 1 percent added $6.5 trillion to their net worth last year, reaching a collective wealth of $45.9 trillion, according to new data

Elon Musk

Jeff Bezos

The elite group includes the richest Americans such as Elon Musk (left) and Jeff Bezos (right) who gained $277 billion and $4.5 billion respectively last year

‘The numbers are astounding,’ Edward Wolff, professor of economics at New York University, told CNBC of the latest wealth figures. 

‘The pandemic wealth boom certainly ranks at or near the top of all the wealth booms over the last 40 years.’ 

The data show that at the end of 2021, the top 1 percent of Americans owed 32.2 percent of the nation’s wealth, an all-time high. 

In 1989, the first year of the data set, the same group owned just 23.5 percent of the country’s assets.

Likewise, the share of wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent of Americans has steadily declined, from 39.1 percent in 1989 to 30.2 percent at the end of last year.

The wealth of the bottom half of the country stood at a pitiful 2.6 percent of the total at the end of 2021, and the top 1 percent owned a staggering 12 times more collective assets than the entire bottom half combined.

A chart showing the share of total wealth by household wealth percentile shows that the top 1% has been steadily increasing its share of all wealth since 1989, the first year measured

A chart showing the share of total wealth by household wealth percentile shows that the top 1% has been steadily increasing its share of all wealth since 1989, the first year measured

The latest data come as President Joe Biden proposes a ‘Billionaire Minimum Income Tax’

The proposed tax would see households worth more than $100 million pay at least 20 percent in taxes on both income and ‘unrealized gains’- the increase in an unsold investment´s value.  

In 2021, the world’s 10 richest people added about $402 billion to their collective net worth. Nine of the 10 were Americans.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk added $121 billion to his fortune, the largest in the world at $277 billion as the year ended, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who started the year in the top spot, sank to number two, adding a mere $4.54 billion to his net worth, which stood at $195 billion.

Elsewhere on the top-10 billionaires list, Microsoft founder Bill Gates added $7.13 billion to his fortune, the fourth largest in the world at $139 billion. 

The world's ten richest people added $402 billion to their collective net worth in 2021, making it a banner year for the ultra-wealthy. Nine of the 10 were Americans

The world’s ten richest people added $402 billion to their collective net worth in 2021, making it a banner year for the ultra-wealthy. Nine of the 10 were Americans

Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin added $47.4 billion and $45.1 billion to their net worths respectively.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gained $24.3 billion for the year, bringing his total to $128 billion, though his fortunes have declined as Facebook stock is down 9 percent since a whistleblower leaked damaging documents this fall.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gained $41.2 billion in 2021, and Warren Buffett added $21.4 billion.

Larry Ellison, the executive chairman of Oracle, added $28.8 billion to his wealth. 

For most of the world’s wealthiest, the vast majority of their net worth is in stock, and their gains have been driven by booming markets.  

Richest 0.00001% in the US have seen their share of wealth increase tenfold since 1982: Group included just 18 individuals in 2021 

In the United States, the share of total household wealth owned by the wealthiest 0.00001 percent has grown tenfold since 1982, according to a recent paper by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

‘Wealth concentration has increased particularly fast during the Covid-19 pandemic,’ they write.

The richest 0.00001 percent of the US consisted of 18 individuals with a net worth exceeding $50 billion in wealth in 2021, which was a banner year for the ultra-wealthy. 

In the United States, the share of total household wealth owned by the wealthiest 0.00001 percent has grown tenfold since 1982, rising especially quickly last year

In the United States, the share of total household wealth owned by the wealthiest 0.00001 percent has grown tenfold since 1982, rising especially quickly last year

‘Top-end wealth is large relative to the economy, and therefore a sizable potential tax revenue source,’ write Saez and Zucman, who argue in favor of a wealth tax like the one famously proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren.

The economists argue that prior attempts at a wealth tax in Europe failed because they targeted the well-to-do instead of the extreme wealthiest.

They also note that the taxes were easily evaded by moving abroad, as most European countries do not tax their citizens worldwide as the US does.

In 2021, the world’s 10 richest people added about $402 billion to their collective net worth. All but one of the top ten were Americans.

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