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The rich club led by Jeff Bezos raises its power

2020-08-23T03:40:09.676Z

Covid raises billionaires' fortunes while reducing global wealthIllustrations by Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega and Rafael del Pino Ricardo Polo Money is a vast, almost unfathomable universe, obviously subject to human contingencies. The coronavirus pandemic has swallowed between 6% and 8% of global wealth, according to calculations by the entity that groups the world Stock Exchanges. In the midst of the general disaster, it may be anecdotal that it has caused lo...



Illustrations by Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega and Rafael del Pino Ricardo Polo

Money is a vast, almost unfathomable universe, obviously subject to human contingencies. The coronavirus pandemic has swallowed between 6% and 8% of global wealth, according to calculations by the entity that groups the world Stock Exchanges. In the midst of the general disaster, it may be anecdotal that it has caused losses in the Inditex Group - founded by Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera, his first wife, in the mid-eighties - for the first time in its history.

Losses that represent little for Ortega, who at 84 years of age is still at the foot of the canyon, going daily to the headquarters of his company, in Arteixo (A Coruña), and that last year, thanks to the dividends of his package shareholding in the textile giant and its real estate and business investments, added more than 2,000 million to its colossal fortune (55,564 million euros, according to Forbes magazine ). The first in Spain, second in Europe and 13th in the world (16th according to the Bloomberg count). A river of money that places you among the most select of the exclusive club of billionaires.

The wealthiest on the planet

In billions of dollars

Market Stall

Name

country

Business

Fortune

one

two

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

eleven

12

13

14

fifteen

16

17

18

19

twenty

Jeff Bezos

Bill gates

Mark Zuckerberg

Elon R. Musk

Bernard Arnault

Mukesh Ambani

Warren buffett

Steve Ballmer

Larry Page

Sergey brin

F. Bettencourt

Larry ellison

Mackenzie scott

Rob walton

Jim Walton

Amancio Ortega

Alice walton

Charles Koch

Julio Flesher Koch

Jack Ma

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

India

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

USA

USA

USA

USA

Spain

USA

USA

USA

China

Amazon

Microsoft

Facebook

Tesla

LVHM

Reliance Ind.

Berkshire

Microsoft

Alphabet

Alphabet

The real

Oracle

Amazon

WalMart

WalMart

Inditex

WalMart

Koch Ind.

Koch Ind.

Alibaba

188.0

121.0

99.0

84.8

84.6

78.8

78.2

75.7

72.5

70.3

66.4

64.6

61.2

59.9

59.7

59.7

59.1

57.0

57.0

51.4

Source: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, James Davies,

Rodrigo Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks.

THE COUNTRY

The wealthiest on the planet

In billions of dollars

Market Stall

Name

country

Business

Fortune

one

two

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

eleven

12

13

14

fifteen

16

17

18

19

twenty

Jeff Bezos

Bill gates

Mark Zuckerberg

Elon R. Musk

Bernard Arnault

Mukesh Ambani

Warren buffett

Steve Ballmer

Larry Page

Sergey brin

F. Bettencourt

Larry ellison

Mackenzie scott

Rob walton

Jim Walton

Amancio Ortega

Alice walton

Charles Koch

Julio Flesher Koch

Jack Ma

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

India

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

USA

USA

USA

USA

Spain

USA

USA

USA

China

Amazon

Microsoft

Facebook

Tesla

LVHM

Reliance Ind.

Berkshire

Microsoft

Alphabet

Alphabet

The real

Oracle

Amazon

WalMart

WalMart

Inditex

WalMart

Koch Ind.

Koch Ind.

Alibaba

188.0

121.0

99.0

84.8

84.6

78.8

78.2

75.7

72.5

70.3

66.4

64.6

61.2

59.9

59.7

59.7

59.1

57.0

57.0

51.4

Source: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, James Davies, Rodrigo

Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks.

THE COUNTRY

The wealthiest on the planet

In billions of dollars

Market Stall

Name

country

Business

Fortune

one

two

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

eleven

12

13

14

fifteen

16

17

18

19

twenty

Jeff Bezos

Bill gates

Mark Zuckerberg

Elon R. Musk

Bernard Arnault

Mukesh Ambani

Warren buffett

Steve Ballmer

Larry Page

Sergey brin

F. Bettencourt

Larry ellison

Mackenzie scott

Rob walton

Jim Walton

Amancio Ortega

Alice walton

Charles Koch

Julio Flesher Koch

Jack Ma

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

India

USA

USA

USA

USA

France

USA

USA

USA

USA

Spain

USA

USA

USA

China

Amazon

Microsoft

Facebook

Tesla

LVHM

Reliance Industries

Berkshire

Microsoft

Alphabet

Alphabet

The real

Oracle

Amazon

WalMart

WalMart

Inditex

WalMart

Koch Industries

Koch Industries

Alibaba

188.0

121.0

99.0

84.8

84.6

78.8

78.2

75.7

72.5

70.3

66.4

64.6

61.2

59.9

59.7

59.7

59.1

57.0

57.0

51.4

Source: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks.

THE COUNTRY

We are talking about the 2,095 people with more than 1,000 million dollars in the world, according to Forbes. Few, but almost four times more than at the beginning of the 21st century. And there are no less than 46.8 million who can be called millionaires - owners of a million dollars at least - according to the latest report on the wealth of Crèdit Suisse. A tiny group compared to the 5.1 billion adults that populate the planet, but an expanding group, which has tripled since 2010. In Bloomberg's count, the top 20 rich people on the planet had 1.2 trillion dollars before it exploded the pandemic. Now, thanks to some stock markets apparently immune to the crisis, they have 300,000 million more. And the combined fortune of the 46.8 million millionaires - less than 1% of the adult population - represents 44% of the wealth of all households.

In both Forbes' and Bloomberg's super-rich lists, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, (with a fortune of 113,000 million dollars or 188,000 million, according to one source or another), occupies the first position reinforced by the skyrocketing price of the company. Also at the top in both rankings are Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (with $ 98,000 or 121,000 million) and Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook ($ 99,000 million, according to Bloomberg). The man of luxury, the Frenchman Bernard Arnault, has been ousted from the fourth position in this ranking by the creator of Tesla, Elon Musk (84.800 million).

Fortunes that symbolize for some the vitality of capitalism and for others its dramatic madness, because what has allowed a handful of people to monopolize them has been the global economy. Is it reasonable to have so much money? What hidden costs for society as a whole and for the planet does all this wealth have? What feelings does it provoke among normal people, who live on a salary and are preparing to suffer the consequences of the colossal crisis created by the pandemic? “The concentration of economic power in fewer and fewer hands is the most serious issue at the moment, along with the failure of the democratic model. We are in a total change of time in terms of the economic model and the political model ”, says Antonio Garrigues Walker, lawyer and honorary president of the firm that bears his name.

Taxes

Capitalism, which has survived throughout history thanks to its ability to make adjustments, faces a new challenge, that of curbing this exorbitant concentration of wealth. How? Properly valuing it, some politicians and numerous economists and experts from half the world propose. Spain is no stranger to the debate. Despite having only 24 billionaires on the Forbes list, 235,400 Spaniards --11,000 more than last year - have a million euros, without counting their homes and other assets, according to the World Wealth Report just published by the consultancy Capgemini. Crèdit Suisse, for its part, estimated Spaniards with more than a million dollars including all their assets last fall, five times more than in 2010.

And if we stick to the data provided by the Tax Agency last year, 611 Spaniards declared in 2017 to have more than 30 million euros. All of them have come to be in the collection view of the Government and even the Union of Finance Technicians (Gestha), which proposes a tax on total wealth that replaces the wealth tax managed by the autonomies and that some, such as Madrid, they give a 100% discount (most have an exempt minimum of around 700,000 euros). The President of the Executive, Pedro Sánchez, admits the need for "greater fiscal justice" by raising taxes "to those who have the most, the large corporations and the large wealth." While the main partner of the Government, United We Can, advocates creating a new tax "to allow large fortunes the institutional exercise of patriotism", in the words of Vice President Pablo Iglesias.

“Having a million is not being a millionaire. If you take into account your own house, it would be even Pablo Iglesias, who bought his at a very good price ”, ironizes José Carlos Díez, professor of Economics at the University of Alcalá de Henares. Iglesias already slipped in his speech that that million euros would be calculated excluding "the first home up to 400,000 euros." Now, Díez adds, “raising 10,000 million euros as requested by Podemos initially to equalize the tax burden would force each of those citizens who have a million to pay 10,000 euros more, including Iglesias. But if you go after the really rich, who are Amancio Ortega and 600 others, the burden goes up a little bit, 10,000 million out of 600 means increasing them a lot ”.

The pyramid of global wealth in 2019

In dollars

Wealth range

(Dollars)

Wealth they possess

(%)

47

(0.9%)

More than 1 million

43.9%

$ 158 trillion

499

(9.8%)

100,000

to 1 million

38.9%

$ 140 billion

1,661 million

of people

(32.6%)

10,000

to 100,000

15.5%

$ 55.7 trillion

Less than

10,000

1.8%

$ 6.3 trillion

2,883 million

of people

(56.6%)

% of adults in the world

Millionaires by countries

Rest

of the world

As a percentage of the total

eleven%

Canada

3%

Holland

two%

China

10%

R. Kingdom

5%

Germany

5%

Japan

6%

France

4%

USA

40%

Switzerland

two%

Korea

two%

Spain

two%

Taiwan

one%

Italy

3%

India

two%

Hong Kong

one%

Australia

3%

Source: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, James Davies

Rodrigo Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks.

THE COUNTRY

The pyramid of global wealth in 2019

In dollars

Wealth range

(Dollars)

Wealth they possess

(%)

47

(0.9%)

More than 1 million

43.9%

$ 158 trillion

499

(9.8%)

100,000

to 1 million

38.9%

$ 140 billion

1,661 million

of people

(32.6%)

10,000

to 100,000

15.5%

$ 55.7 trillion

Less than

10,000

1.8%

$ 6.3 trillion

2,883 million

of people

(56.6%)

% of adults in the world

Millionaires by countries

Rest

of the world

As a percentage of the total

eleven%

Canada

3%

Holland

two%

R. Kingdom

5%

China

10%

Japan

6%

Germany: 5%

USA

40%

France: 4%

Switzerland: 2%

Korea: 2%

Spain: 2%

Taiwan

one%

Italy

3%

Hong Kong

one%

India

two%

Australia

3%

Source: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, James Davies, Rodrigo

Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks.

THE COUNTRY

The pyramid of global wealth in 2019

In dollars

Wealth range

(Dollars)

Wealth they possess

(%)

47

(0.9%)

More than 1 million

43.9%

$ 158 trillion

499

(9.8%)

100,000 to 1 million

38.9%

$ 140 billion

1,661 million

of people

(32.6%)

15.5%

$ 55.7 trillion

10,000 to 100,000

2,883 million

of people

(56.6%)

1.8%

$ 6.3 trillion

Less than 10,000

% of adults in the world

Millionaires by countries

As a percentage of the total

Rest

of the world

eleven%

Canada

3%

China

10%

R. Kingdom

5%

Holland

two%

Germany: 5%

France: 4%

Japan

6%

USA

40%

Switzerland: 2%

Spain: 2%

Korea: 2%

Italy

3%

Taiwan: 1%

Hong Kong

one%

India

two%

Australia

3%

Source: Bloomberg, Credit Suisse, James Davies, Rodrigo Lluberas and Anthony Shorrocks.

THE COUNTRY

The truth is that the tax reform has not yet materialized and the tax on the rich has been left in a kind of limbo. It is not weird. Adjusting tax accounts to large wealth is often a difficult undertaking. It does not seem coincidental that the two biggest losers in the race for the Democratic nomination in the United States, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren, were the most radical in their proposals to assess the great fortunes. Sanders' tax program would have halved the wealth of American billionaires within 15 years, according to calculations by The Financial Times.

The professor of Economic Policy and president of the Cercle d'Economia Foundation of Barcelona, ​​Antón Costas, recalls, however, that capitalism has already been able in the past to correct its excesses. “The liberal wealth confiscation reforms in the 19th century had that goal and were beneficial. In the same way, the postwar social contract in Europe and the United States - and, in the case of Spain, in the second half of the 1970s - by combining market capitalism with a new social state, gave rise to a sustained economic growth and inclusive prosperity ”. And today, he adds, "also from a liberal perspective, measures of this type are once again necessary to promote a dynamic and inclusive capitalism."

Discontent

It would be a way to appease the discontent caused by the lack of expectations of the younger generations, and the inequality that has increased exponentially with the pandemic. The expected fall in GDP (between 9% and 13%) and the increase in unemployment will drive no less than 700,000 Spaniards into poverty, calculates the NGO Intermón Oxfam. And although it is true that the crisis has taken a toll on global wealth, the Spanish billionaires on the Forbes list jointly saw their fortunes increase by 19.2 billion euros between mid-March and early June, according to this NGO. "The empirical evidence says that the vast majority of Spaniards think that there is great inequality, and they have thought so year after year in the last twenty," stresses Emeritus Professor of Sociology Víctor Pérez Díaz.

"The Spanish economic and financial elites are not aware of the relationship that exists between the bad mood of our societies, especially among the middle classes, and growing inequality," says Costas. "On the one hand, they question that this has increased as much as the figures say and, on the other, they believe that it is something" natural ", that responds to the" merits "of each one". Those who see it this way, according to this economist, more than the businessmen themselves, are those who represent them and the top executives of large corporations.

Can be. But many entrepreneurs are sure enough of their merits and those of their ancestors to have taken care to put their history in writing. Miguel Fluxá Rosselló, 81 years old, the billionaire in charge of the multinational tourism company Grupo Iberostar, is one of them. In the book Viajes y estrellas: un historia de entrepreneurship, the main milestones of the hotel saga are told in 357 pages with many illustrations, created from the purchase of the network of agencies Viajes Iberia by Miguel's father, Lorenzo Fluxá Figuerola, in 1956. The book, published in 2017, is signed by the professor of History and Economic Institutions at the Complutense University of Madrid and a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of History Elena San Román.

Family sagas

The two branches of the Fluxá family (one dedicated to tourism and the other to footwear), are part of the same business dynasty that dates back to the 19th century. Without as much historical pedigree as they are, a good part of the 24 Spanish billionaires are children or grandchildren of entrepreneurs who made their fortunes in the postwar period, when the need to set up a destroyed country offered countless opportunities - as long as they were in good tune with the Regime - the most audacious and ambitious. This is how Rafael del Pino Moreno, who died in 2008, raised Ferrovial from the first contracts with Renfe, in the middle of the reconstruction and expansion of the railway. Four of his five children - three of them billionaires - remain in the multinational presided over by the oldest of the boys, Rafael del Pino Calvo Sotelo, 62 years old.

Sol Daurella, 54, one of the richest women in Spain, president of Coca-Cola European Partners, has made her fortune in the wake of her grandfather who established the first links with the transnational in the 1950s. And about to pass the baton to the third generation of the family - although this year they have been expelled from the Forbes list of billionaires - there are also Antonio and Jorge Gallardo Ballart, directors of the Almirall pharmaceutical company, created by their father, Antonio Gallardo Carrera , in 1943. Heirs are also the brothers Francisco and Jon Riberas Mera, today at the helm of a conglomerate that includes the Gestamp Corporation, dedicated to the manufacture of automobile components; the Gonvarri group, a steel producer, and the renewable energy firm Acek. The empire was started by his father, Francisco Riberas Pampliega, who created Gonvarri in the late 1950s from a scrap metal business. Pampliega also has an authorized biography.

There is much more literature about Inditex and its creator, and everyone knows that the successful businessman from Busdongo (in the Leonese term of Villamanín), the son of a railroad worker, left school at the age of 13 to go to work. Today it is the richest in Spain, although its assets have fallen more than 13,000 million euros so far this year, according to Bloomberg; He has a private plane and a yacht, and he owns the pazo de Ancéis, a property from the 18th century, in the municipality of Cambre, very close to A Coruña. Divorced from his first wife, Rosalía Mera (who died in 2013), Ortega remarried Flora Pérez Marcote, 'Flori', who sits on the board of directors of Inditex, representing Pontegadea Inversiones, the firm that treasures the bulk of her husband's shares in the textile group. Inditex's boss, the most allergic to the billionaire press, belongs to the lineage of those who have built an economic empire starting from the very bottom.

The Valencian Juan Roig, with a net worth of 3,900 million dollars (his wife, Hortensia Herrero, adds another 2,300 million dollars), has the merit of having set up a spectacular network of supermarkets such as Mercadona (1,600 establishments with 79,000 employees) , but he did it from the eight grocery stores bought from the father. And Florentino Pérez, 72, president of Real Madrid and president and significant shareholder of ACS, the construction company he started in 1997, is an engineer by training and had a political shoot at UCD before becoming a billionaire.

Maintaining a company through generations also has its merit. You just have to see how easily the successful ones change ownership. Manuel Lao, 75, founder of Cirsa, dedicated to gaming and leisure, or Alberto Palatchi, 70, creator of Pronovias, sold theirs seduced by good deals. The first to the Blackstone Group, and the second, to the US fund BC Partners, which has paid 550 million euros. Money to invest in sicav paths, which worries Professor Diez. “It is that we see an increase in the number of capitalists who invest in brick and bonds. The money must be taken out of the brick and put into business activity, innovative activity, and channel that capital towards job creation and, if possible, quality employment with good salaries. Capital has to get into sectors that will generate high added value in the future. And that is not happening in Spain ”.

There is no doubt about the preferences for the brick of the wealthy Spanish investors. Amancio Ortega accumulates properties worth 15,000 million euros through Pontegadea. His daughter Sandra Ortega Mera, with 4.8 billion euros, the second fortune in Spain, follows in his footsteps. The Riberas have also set foot in the real estate business, as has Alicia Koplowitz. who has returned to the Forbes list of billionaires this year.

Much brick and little innovation. Perhaps for this reason, the super-rich are viewed with some suspicion in Spain. "In reality, from the studies we have carried out, it cannot be deduced that Spaniards have a bad opinion of businessmen", says Elisa Chuliá, professor of Sociology at UNED and researcher at Funcas (foundation that manages the social work of the savings banks). saving). "However, in a survey we did of business owners, we discovered that they do have the idea that society does not appreciate them."

Xosé Carlos Arias, professor of applied economics at the University of Vigo, believes that this figure who had gained legitimacy in the Transition, lost it at once with the 2008 crisis, especially in the case of the bankers and those who promoted the real estate boom. And now? "My impression is that among young people - due to their perception of a future with fewer opportunities - there is a lot of distancing and perhaps even aversion towards traditional groups of economic power." A mixture of envy and resentment.

Build wealth

"The question is not that there are or are not rich, but that they pay their taxes", Professor Diez abounds. “This is what we have to focus on. What matters to me is that this wealth is invested again and creates employment, which is what Amancio Ortega does. What would the city of A Coruña be like if Amancio Ortega had not developed Inditex? How many people work in it thanks to Inditex? How much income tax do you pay? How much do you pay VAT? How many restaurants and hotels are there in A Coruña? How much does the airport work? All this generates income and activity, and not just the wealth tax ”.

Inditex is, undoubtedly, a source of wealth for Galicia, where its headquarters are located, and where the employer and its main managers live. "And that explains why it is the fourth region by tax collection, although it is sparsely populated", acknowledges Carlos Cruzado, president of Gestha. Although the data of the Tax Agency are only an approximation to the reality of the money that exists. Proof of this, says Cruzado, "is that the private banking reports always give a number of assets and super-rich that exceeds that of the declarants." And so much. Suffice it to remember that in 2017, for tax purposes, only 611 Spaniards had more than 30 million euros. In its report last autumn, Crèdit Suisse calculated, on the other hand, that there were 2,200 who had fortunes in excess of 45 million euros. A disparity that highlights the difficulty that the treasury faces in holding billionaires to account.

Low-profile philanthropists

In 2009, managers of a handful of companies, most of the Ibex-35, created the Fundación Sociedad y Empresa Responsables (Seres), with the intention, says its president, Francisco Román, of exercising a kind of faceless business patronage, given that, the greats of the economy, "have an aversion to popularity due to the degree of criticism generated in Spain."

Beyond this joint responsibility, it is frequent that important companies and entrepreneurs give life to foundations to carry out, at least theoretically, a charitable work. The money that they allocate from them to aid programs has tax credits. The economic endowment - the global budget, so to speak - that each one manages also benefits from a favorable fiscal regime. Rafael del Pino, who died in 2008, set up his in 1999 with the intention, as he wrote, to "give back to Spanish society part of what this same society has given me throughout my personal and professional life" . Many other entrepreneurs, such as Francisco Cosentino, or Mercadona's vice president, Hortensia Herrero, have created foundations. Rosalía Mera, who died in 2013, set up Paideia, who works with vulnerable groups, which her daughter Sandra Ortega now takes care of. Among those with the greatest financial endowment are the Botín Foundation and the Amancio Ortega Foundation. The owner of Zara has flaunted altruism in the face of the coronavirus crisis, bringing planes loaded with medical supplies from China. And, through the company that manages its fortune, the Pontegadea Group, has injected 104 million euros into its foundation.

There have been other gestures of business solidarity, such as that of the president of Banco de Santander, Ana Patricia Botín, who pledged to avoid layoffs in the crisis and the salary has been cut in half. However, philanthropy 'a la español' is far from resembling that practiced in the Anglo-Saxon world. Wealthy Americans have been the most generous in these times of health and economic crisis. And is that philanthropy is a true tradition in the world superpower that dedicates an amount equivalent to 2% of the national GDP to this activity, according to a study by the Charities Aid Foundation. “In the United States there is a more pragmatic and clearer language. The rich there are not devoting large sums to philanthropy solely out of social solidarity, but out of sheer pragmatism. They realize that they have to contribute to reducing inequalities, which are many: economic, health, educational, technological, "says Antonio Garrigues. Social empathy then, but also large doses of practicality would be behind the generous patronages and donations that the mega-rich Americans usually make. An activity in which no one has yet displaced Bill and Melinda Gates who, through the foundation that bears their name, created in 1995, have donated tens of billions of dollars to countless causes. The latest and recent contribution, 100 million dollars for the early detection, isolation and treatment of the coronavirus. The Gates certainly do not live as Carthusians. They have a 19-seater private plane, and reside in a mansion in Washington valued at 112 million euros, in addition to owning farms in California, Florida or Wyoming.

Unlike the American couple, the Spanish billionaires protect their activities behind a wall of silence. None of the long twenty billionaires contacted for this report wanted to be interviewed, not even to talk about their philanthropic activities.

"It is a question of modesty", believes Antonio Garrigues. Convinced that many rich Spaniards “do very good things but they don't advertise them. Because they also generate rejection reactions that in the United States would be unimaginable ”. A clear allusion to the criticism received by Amancio Ortega when he donated devices for the treatment of cancer worth 350 million euros. And it is that in Spain, says Elisa Chuliá, the State is expected to attend to the needs of citizens, the one to take care of all services. And of the delicious ones, what is expected? Of course, they pay their taxes. Philanthropy would come later, because, as Professor Xosé Carlos Arias says, "the priority, even for the survival of liberal democracy, is to find formulas to tax capital."


Source: elparis

All business articles on 2020-08-23

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