The Obscenely Wealthy Have Recently Experienced Obscene Increases in Their Wealth

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich recently wrote an article with the subtitle “Biden’s economic policies are the most successful in the US in decades.” He continues stating that the Biden administration policies “may even put the nation on the path to widely shared prosperity for a generation” and “are beginning to alter the structure of the American economy in favor of the bottom 90%.”

These policies have certainly been successful at creating greater prosperity for the 10 wealthiest people in the United States. Their wealth, after a large decline in 2022, is now almost 24% greater than it was at the beginning of 2021, right before the start of Biden’s presidency. (see second table below)

In 2022, according to the Blomberg Billionaire Index, their combined losses were more than $454 billion. The August 1, 2023, Bloomberg Index shows that the wealthiest 10 U.S. residents, as a group, have experienced a recovery of most of their 2022 losses.[1]

In 2022, Zuckerberg’s wealth was down $79.9 billion. Thus far in 2023, it is up $71.5 billion.

During 2022, the wealth of Musk declined by $133 billion. One might assume that Musk’s fortune in 2023 would continue to decline given the fall in the value of X/Twitter and the increased competition in the electric car industry. Such an assumption would be wrong. According to Bloomberg, there is good news for Musk. As of August 1, he had recovered over $100 billion of the losses he sustained in 2022.

Below, as of August 1, are the latest figures for the wealthiest 10. Their wealth, as a group, is up $411.2 billion or 45% in a matter of 7 months. Were this rate of increase to continue, at the end of the year, the increase in their wealth will far exceed the losses sustained in 2022.

The following table, based on Bloomberg figures at the time, shows their wealth as of August 1 and the setback  in their wealth during 2022. The setback can be seen by comparing the second and third columns. Compare columns one and four to see the large increase in their wealth since 2021 of more than $250 billion.    Note: Bezos is the only one whose current nominal wealth is lower than it was in the beginning of 2021–poor guy.

Is Reich correct to claim that the Biden administration’s economic policies have been successful?  Would his claim be confirmed by the millions of people who have recently lost their jobs and/or are homeless and/or live in poverty and/or endure food insecurity? Some of these folks may even include thousands of the students at UC Berkeley where Reich teaches.[3]


[1] See my The Wealthy Took a Hit in 2022. Who Lost the Most?

[2] U.S. residents held 9 of the slots of the 10 wealthiest people in the world, increasing from 7 at the beginning of the year. The other position in the top 10 is held by France’s Bernard Arnault who is worth $196 billion. Walton is the 15th wealthiest.


Before the pandemic, a survey conducted found that, “At UC Berkeley, 39 percent undergraduates and 23 percent of graduate students experience food insecurity, and a recent study conducted by the Chancellor’s Housing Task Force found that ten percent of UC Berkeley students experience housing insecurity or homelessness. This is about 14,000 Berkeley students experiencing food insecurity and 3,800 experiencing housing insecurity.”


Rick Baum teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco. He is a member of AFT 2121.