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Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos speaks to the media about the company's sustainability efforts on September 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)

'Disturbing Milestone': Just 12 US Billionaires Now Own More Than $1 Trillion in Combined Wealth

"This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people."

Jake Johnson

New research published Monday by the Institute for Policy Studies shows that the dozen richest American billionaires now collectively own more than $1 trillion in wealth, a finding one analyst described as "a disturbing milestone in the U.S. history of concentrated wealth and power."

"The total wealth of the Oligarchic Dozen is greater than the GDP of Belgium and Austria combined. Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans are unemployed or living paycheck to paycheck."
—Omar Ocampo, Institute for Policy Studies

According to IPS, a progressive think tank, the 12 top U.S. billionaires have seen their combined wealth soar by 40%—or $283 billion—since the coronavirus began spreading rapidly across the U.S. in mid-March, sparking widespread economic shutdowns and mass job loss.

"During the first stage of the pandemic, between January 1 and March 18, the collective wealth of the Oligarchic Dozen declined by $96 billion," wrote IPS researchers Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo. "But their wealth quickly rebounded and surpassed their September 2019 Forbes 400 wealth level. The only exception is Warren Buffett, who is still $2 billion below his September 2019 wealth, but is currently worth $80 billion."

Last Thursday, the billionaires' combined wealth reached $1.015 trillion—the first time in U.S. history that the collective net worth of the top 12 American billionaires has topped the trillion-dollar mark. According to IPS, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has seen his wealth jump by $48.5 billion since mid-March, making him the "biggest pandemic profiteer" of the group.

"This is simply too much economic and political power in the hands of twelve people," Collins, director of IPS' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, said in a statement.

The dozen wealthiest U.S. billionaires and their respective net worth as of August 13 are listed below:

  • Jeff Bezos—$189.5 billion
  • Bill Gates—$114.1 billion
  • Mark Zuckerberg—$95.5 billion
  • Warren Buffett—$80.6 billion
  • Elon Musk—$73.1 billion
  • Steve Ballmer—$71.5 billion
  • Larry Ellison—$70.9 billion
  • Larry Page—$67.4 billion
  • Sergey Brin—$65.6 billion
  • Alice Walton—$62.6 billion
  • Jim Walton—$62.3 billion
  • Rob Walton—$62.03 billion

"The total wealth of the Oligarchic Dozen is greater than the GDP of Belgium and Austria combined," said Ocampo. "Meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans are unemployed or living paycheck to paycheck, and 170,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States."


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Research Reveals How PR Firms Have Spent Decades Fueling Climate Misinformation

"The best time to stop working for fossil fuel clients was 20 years ago, when we had much more time to stop the climate emergency. The second best time is now."

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Decry US Gun Control Failures After 'Truly Sickening' Michigan School Shooting

"A 15-year-old shooter may have picked up the weapon, but Congress—through its inaction on gun violence—may as well have handed it to him."

Brett Wilkins ·


New Climate Study Predicting More Rain Than Snow in the Arctic 'Rings Alarm Bells'

"There are huge ramifications of these changes," said the lead researcher, "all of which have implications on wildlife populations and human livelihoods."

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Durbin Introduces Amendment to End 'Legacy of Cruelty' by Closing Guantánamo

"It's time at long last to face reality and... close the detention facility at Guantánamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all."

Brett Wilkins ·


With SCOTUS Set to Hear Abortion Case, Anti-Choice Groups Prepare to Enact 'Post-Roe Strategy'

Right-wing groups are lobbying lawmakers to pass state-level restrictions and ban sales of abortion pills, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Julia Conley ·

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