Since the start of the pandemic, American billionaires have been cleaning up. As more than 50 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, billionaires became $637 billion richer. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth has ballooned by 59%. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ wealth has increased by 39%. Walmart’s Walton family has added $25 billion.
Big drug company CEOs and their major investors are doing nicely, too. Since the start of the pandemic, Big Pharma has raised prices on 245 prescription drugs, 61 of which are being used to treat COVID-19.
Apologists say this is the “free market” responding to supply and demand — the barons of Big Tech, online retail and Big Pharma merely providing what consumers desperately need during the pandemic.
But the market also operates under laws that ban profiteering, price gouging and monopolizing, and that tax excess profits in wartime. Where did these laws go? The Trump administration hasn’t enforced them.
Donald Trump is also ignoring laws that ban trades on insider information. The White House is distributing billions in subsidies and loans to select corporations — enabling CEOs and boards to load up on stocks and stock options just before deals are announced, then rake in fat profits after stock prices surge.
Insiders from at least 11 companies have sold shares worth more than $1 billion after such announcements, according to an analysis by the New York Times.