Billionaires’ wealth gains during the pandemic could easily pay for the whole world to get vaccinated

covid vaccine
A medical assistant administers a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a woman at a clinic in Los Angeles on March 25, 2021.

  • A one-time 99% tax on the pandemic-era gains for the world’s billionaires could pay for vaccines for everyone, according to a new report.
  • The rest of the money collected could give every unemployed worker in the world $20,000.
  • One-off wealth taxes have been suggested as one potential solution for boosting economic recovery and addressing inequality.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Billionaires around the world added around $5.5 trillion to their wealth during the pandemic – and a 99% tax on those gains could help vaccinate the world.

That’s according to a new report from Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, and the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies and Patriotic Millionaires.

The analysis looks at the impact of a potential one-time tax on pandemic-era billionaire gains, using Forbes real-time data to track net worths. The report finds that the world’s 2,690 billionaires added staggering amounts to their fortunes, with their cumulative wealth growing more since March 2020 than in the previous 15 years.

That adds up to a cumulative net worth of $13.5 trillion, which marks a $5.5 trillion, or almost 69%, increase since the pandemic first hit, when they held $8 trillion.

“Billionaire wealth is not earned. Billionaires are profiting from working people’s hard graft and pain. It’s their money ‘earned’ by your sweat ―and it’s high time that sweat began to pay off,” Njoki Njehu, Pan Africa Coordinator of the Fight Inequality Alliance, said in a statement.

Per the report, such a 99% one-off tax would bring in $5.4 trillion, with the billionaires still holding onto $55 billion in pandemic-era gains.

The authors calculate the cost of vaccination at $7 per dose, meaning that vaccinating the entire world would come in at a price tag of $70 billion total, a relatively tiny fraction of the trillions in wealth gained by those billionaires.

Currently, according to Our World In Data, only 1.2% of people in low-income countries have gotten at least one vaccine dose. Nature reports that it will take until 2023 for the poorest countries to get vaccinated at current expected rates.

The report proposes that rest of the money raised by a wealth tax go to unemployed workers. The International Labour Organization found in a report that 220 million people are unemployed worldwide. According to the analysis, it would cost $4.4 trillion to give them all $20,000, well within the amount of money left over after global vaccination.

Wealth taxes have arisen as one solution for combating pandemic inequality

Levying taxes on society’s wealthiest members has been suggested as one potential method to address pandemic inequality – and it’s garnered support from more mainstream bodies and countries.

In April, the International Monetary Fund backed taxes on the wealthy and corporations as one option to help pandemic economic recovery. Argentina took it one step further, enacting its own one-time wealth tax on the top 0.8% of its population. The money from that tax – which brought in $2.4 billion – will go towards housing, public health, and other pandemic-impacted sectors.

“This is the time for a bold and meaningful strike at these inequalities,” Chuck Collins, the director of the program on inequality and the common good at the Institute for Policy Studies, told Insider. “You can’t get a more extreme example of the harms of billionaire wealth excess versus the plight of ordinary people than what we’re seeing right now. And people know that. So, I think bold measures – bold wealth taxes – to reverse inequality would have wide public support.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Most Americans believe today’s children will be poorer than their parents, Pew finds

Gen Z
  • The economy might finally be rebounding from the pandemic, but not for everyone.
  • A new Pew Research Center survey found that respondents think kids will be worse off than their parents.
  • Younger workers have already been hit by at least one recession and a pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The economy might be picking up, and people are growing a tad more optimistic, but many still think economic wounds will have a long-lasting impact.

A new Pew Research Center survey found that across 17 publics including the US a majority of respondents think kids will be financially worse off than their parents. Across everyone surveyed, a median of 64% were pessimistic about childrens’ financial futures.

That number was higher for US respondents, with 68% saying they think that kids will be financially worse off. However, respondents in France and Japan were even more concerned, with 77% of respondents in both countries saying that they think kids will be financially worse off.

Another generational wealth gap

As Insider’s Hillary Hoffower previously reported, there’s already a wealth gap between boomers and millennials. The older generation has benefited from everything from low interest rates to investments in companies that bolster pollution – a problem that will exacerbate the climate crisis and its strain on the younger generation.

That’s on top of the Great Recession already leaving millennials behind when it comes to wealth accumulation; as Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that millennials earned 34% less than they would have had there been no recession.

Plus, the past year has brought yet another recession. This time, younger workers were again pummeled. According to a report from the International Labour Organization, workers ages 15-24 saw employment losses of 8.7%; among adults, employment loss was broadly 3.7%. That report warned that Gen Z, which has dealt with education cut short by the pandemic and a recession during their entry to workforce, was at risk of becoming a “lost generation.”

As Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, Gen Z was the most unemployed generation in the wake of pandemic’s economic devastation. However, some hope may be on the horizon: Gen Z will still take over the economy in a decade, Hoffower reported, despite the pandemic potentially making them lose out on $10 trillion in earnings.

On the whole, a median 52% of respondents in the Pew survey – and 71% in the US – still think that the current economic situation is bad. In New Zealand and Australia, respondents were more optimistic, with over 70% of respondents in both answering that the economic situation is good.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden Treasury pick Janet Yellen says additional stimulus and expanded unemployment insurance will provide the ‘biggest bang for the buck’

Janet Yellen Speaking at Biden Lecturn December 2020.JPG
Janet Yellen speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 1, 2020.

  • Joe Biden’s Treasury pick Janet Yellen faced lawmakers at a confirmation hearing in the US Senate Tuesday.
  • The former Fed chair said additional stimulus and expanded retirement insurance will have the biggest impact in the immediate term.
  • “They’ll create jobs throughout the economy,” Yellen said of her plans to provide more relief for small businesses.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, says additional stimulus relief for those most in need coupled with expanded unemployment insurance will have the biggest economic impact in the immediate term, giving Americans “the biggest bang for the buck.”

“I think relief that we provide to those who are in the greatest need and to small businesses have the best chance of providing both relief to those who’ve been so badly affected by the pandemic and creating a great deal of spending per dollar spent,” Yellen said during her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday. “They’ll create jobs throughout the economy.”

Yellen, who chaired the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, said targeting relief for those most in need during the pandemic could help the economy recover in the short term. Among her plans she said additional funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP), extended unemployment insurance, as well as additional stimulus, and relief for small businesses would be key.

Yellen emphasized the extent of the economic and human devastation the virus has inflicted on the US over the past year and warned of another recession without a set of fiscal policies to address the issues those most impacted by the pandemic face everyday.

“We have to relieve the suffering that this pandemic has caused. We need to look at the businesses most at risk,” Yellen said.  “If we don’t do so, that suffering and the loss of spending will cause other people to lose jobs and permanent scarring, that will harm the economy over the longer term.”

Her plans align with Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief proposal, which calls for bigger benefits for Americans struggling with hunger and $400 weekly federal unemployment benefits. Yellen called for the government to “act big” when it comes to providing stimulus, going along with Biden’s $1,400 boost to the $600 stimulus checks.

As treasury secretary, Yellen will play a crucial role in guiding the Biden administration’s negotiations with a divided Congress, as Democrats will have very slim majorities in both chambers.

Yellen requires a full Senate vote to be installed as secretary, though she is expected to win an easy confirmation. She will be the first woman to lead the Treasury in the nation’s history.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Joe Biden laid out 4 priorities for another stimulus package once he takes office. But he’s up against Republicans who don’t want more relief spending.

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks about the Electoral College vote certification process at The Queen theater on December 14, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.

  • President-elect Joe Biden is starting to lay out a blueprint for another pandemic aid package.
  • The measures Biden indicated support for included more stimulus checks, public health funds, and enhanced unemployment insurance.
  • But his ambitions will collide with Senate Republicans who may not be inclined to back more aid spending.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Congress recently approved a $900 billion federal rescue package after a stretch of tumultuous negotiations over the past three weeks. (The package has yet to be signed by President Donald Trump.) The legislation, though, was preceded by months of political dysfunction set against the backdrop of a raging pandemic and economic calamity for millions of Americans.

Yet President-elect Joe Biden is betting he can break through the gridlock and usher in a new era of compromise.

Less than 24 hours after Congress approved an emergency spending plan, he is signaling his intent to corral both parties to get behind another agreement to prop up a slowing economy.

In a speech on Tuesday, Biden started laying out his priorities for another rescue package after he is sworn in on January 20. He warned the nation’s “darkest days” in its battle against the pandemic still lay ahead and called the $900 billion piece of legislation “a down payment.”

“The things that are left to deal with from people needing unemployment insurance to the ability to have access for healthcare, getting people treatment for free – all of that is something the public is not going to stand for us not doing,” he said.

Measures that he indicated support for include:

  • Stimulus checks of an undetermined amount
  • Aid to state and local governments
  • Funds for virus testing and vaccine distribution
  • Extension of enhanced unemployment insurance

Biden also took the opportunity to credit Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – a former rival in the 2020 Democratic primary – along with Senate Republicans for including the $600 stimulus checks in the relief legislation.

“I think you’re seeing that there is a clear understanding these issues go beyond any ideology. People are desperately hurting,” he said. “The Republicans are hurting as badly as Democrats.”

Biden’s remarks reflect the urgency among Democrats as the pandemic continues exacting a devastating toll on communities and businesses. Both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emphasized after announcing a long-awaited stimulus deal they would press for more aid as soon as Biden is inaugurated.

But the drive to secure another aid package is all but guaranteed to collide with Senate Republicans, who may not be inclined to back a large round of emergency spending. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though, acknowledged last week more negotiations could take place with the incoming Biden White House.

“We all know the new administration will be asking for yet another package,” McConnell said. “It’s not like we won’t have another opportunity to debate the merits of liability reform and of state and local government in the very near future.”

McConnell has indicated he wants a liability shield to guard businesses from pandemic-related lawsuits while Democrats want to clinch more aid for cash-strapped state and local governments. But more talks may not produce the kind of ambitious spending that Democrats want.

Some Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida have stepped up their calls to rein in the swelling budget deficit in recent months.

Lawmakers approved a record-breaking $3.3 trillion in emergency spending this year to contain the pandemic and soften the blow for ailing businesses and struggling Americans. The bulk of it came from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March, which sent $1,200 checks to millions of Americans and provided small business aid among other measures.

Many economists say the $900 billion relief legislation only sets up a short bridge into early next year when vaccines are expected to reach a small slice of the public. They argue more federal aid is needed.

“We’ve done a lot. But there is a lot more to do,” Ernie Tedeschi, a policy economist at Evercore ISI, tweeted recently. “The new bill helps. But we are far from out of the woods yet and there are still risks and pitfalls.”

Many new aid provisions will end only several months into 2021. For example, a chunk of enhanced unemployment benefits expires in mid-March.

Whether Republicans support Biden’s drive for more federal aid rests on the Biden administration’s efforts to contain the pandemic and overall health of the economy.

“If we address the critical needs right now and things improve next year as the vaccine gets out there and the economy starts to pick up again, you know, then there’s maybe less of a need,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said last week.

Read the original article on Business Insider