The claim that billionaire wealth has surged ‘since the beginning of the pandemic’ is flatly untrue.
Over the weekend, ABC News claimed that “as 45 million Americans lost their jobs . . . between March 18 and June 17, as the pandemic raged, the combined wealth of the 614 U.S. billionaires increased by $584 billion, according to an analysis released late last week by the Institute for Policy Studies.”
ABC is not alone. This claim has made headlines in CNBC, Fox Business, Business Insider, CNN, Reuters, Newsweek, and the New York Post. It has also been shared tens of thousands of times on social media.
The source of this claim is a “study” from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a liberal think tank, titled “US Billionaire Wealth Surges to $584 Billion, or 20 Percent, Since the Beginning of the Pandemic.” Every few weeks, the organization updates the data and receives another round of media headlines announcing that the pandemic has coincided with a massive surge in billionaire wealth. Social-media posts predictably follow with calls for socialism and videos of guillotines intended to mirror the French Revolution.
Yet the claim that billionaire wealth has surged “since the beginning of the pandemic” is flatly untrue.
Brian M. Riedl is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the recent issue brief, Coronavirus Budget Projections: Escalating Deficits and Debt. Follow him on Twitter here.
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