Despite a global pandemic and economic downturn, the total wealth of the world's richest has increased by more than $5 trillion over the past year, according to data compiled by Forbes for its annual billionaires list.
Forbes' 35th annual billionaires list, released Tuesday, revealed there are a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires in the world in 2021. Of those, there are 493 new billionaires on the list this year that didn't make the cut in 2020.
The combined wealth of the world's billionaires as of March 2021 is some $13.1 trillion -- up from $8 trillion total in March 2020.
"This was a record-breaking year in multiple ways, with more newcomers than ever before and more billionaires globally," Kerry A. Dolan, Forbes' assistant managing editor for wealth, said in a statement Tuesday.
"It was also the first time that the combined net worth of the world’s billions crossed into double-digit trillions," Dolan added. "The pace at which huge fortunes have been created is astonishing."
With a net worth of $177 billion, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos topped this year's list for the fourth year in a row. Tesla CEO Elon Musk came in at the No. 2 spot at $151 billion, skyrocketing up from 31st on the list last year. The remaining billionaires in the top five spots are: Bernard Arnault (with a net worth of $150 billion) at No. 3, Bill Gates ($124 billion) at No. 4, and Mark Zuckerberg ($97 billion) at No. 5.
This is the first year since 1993 that Warren Buffet, who is No. 6, has not made the Forbes' top five billionaires list. His net worth is $96 billion.
The wealth of the ultra-elite is closely tied to the stock market, which suffered early in the pandemic but has since rebounded to new heights despite pains persisting elsewhere in the economy. Notably, Forbes methodology used stock prices and exchange rates from March 5, 2021, to calculate net worth for this year's list. For last year's list, wealth was measured on March 18, 2020, very close to when the stock market bottomed.
Many economists have warned that the pandemic has widened America's wealth gap, exacerbating income inequality as low-wage service workers in industries requiring face-to-face contact lost their jobs while white collar workers could continue to work remotely.
The unemployment rate in the U.S. last month was 6%. Prior to the COVID-19 shock to the labor market, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was at a historic low of 3.5% in February 2020.
Forbes identified some 1,975 billionaires this year as "self-made," in contrast to 281 billionaires who inherited their wealth and 499 billionaires who inherited a substantial amount of wealth and then grew it further.
The U.S. has more billionaires than any other country (a total of 724), but China is not far behind (with 698 billionaires), according to the Forbes analysis. While the vast majority are still men, there are 328 women billionaires this year, compared to 241 in 2020.
Another notable trend from this year's report was that of the nearly 500 new billionaires in 2021, Forbes said some of the common ways they acquired their wealth was through cryptocurrency, SPACs, traditional IPOs and COVID-related health care.
Finally, among the notable people who appeared on the 2020 billionaires list but did not make the cut in 2021 is reality TV star and makeup entrepreneur Kylie Jenner. Her sister Kim Kardashian, however, made the billionaires list for the first time this year
Warren Buffett’s fortune reached $100 billion on Wednesday, as investors drove the stock price for his company Berkshire Hathaway Inc to a record level.
Buffett’s net worth, as measured by Forbes magazine, comes almost entirely from owning about one-sixth of Berkshire, a roughly $600 billion company.
Berkshire’s stock price has surged higher in March, with its Class A shares surpassing $400,000 on Wednesday.
That came after the Omaha, Nebraska-based company on Feb. 27 said fourth-quarter operating results improved despite the coronavirus pandemic, while gains in Apple Inc and other stocks fueled a $35.8 billion overall profit.
The 90-year-old Buffett’s net worth would be higher had he not in 2006 begun donating his Berkshire shares to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities.
Buffett had previously owned nearly one-third of Berkshire, and his donations have totaled more than $37 billion when they were made.
Berkshire was a failing textile company when Buffett took control in 1965. It now owns more than 90 businesses such as the Geico car insurer and BNSF railroad, and ended last year with $281.2 billion of stocks.
One of the world’s most celebrated investors, Buffett was once the world’s richest person but has been bypassed by several executives whose companies’ stock prices have risen faster.
Before this year, Berkshire’s stock had trailed the Standard & Poor’s 500 including dividends over the prior decade.
The stock has outperformed in 2021, and some analysts raised their price targets this month.
Forbes said Buffett ranks fifth on its list of the world’s richest people, after Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, Tesla’s Elon Musk, LVMH Moet Hennessy’s Bernard Arnault and his family, and the philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
March is Women's History Month, and while many companies aim to celebrate women 365 days a year, this month always feels extra special.
A wide variety of fashion and beauty brands have worked on everything from extraordinary campaigns to lending charitable donations toward worthy causes that honor and celebrate women of the past, present and future.
Nike debuted its "We Play Real" film campaign putting a spotlight on incredible Black women while beauty brands such as Billie that challenged societal ideals of how woman are perceived in its inclusive campaign, "Think of a Woman."
Below, a number of fashion and beauty labels that are celebrating women this month and beyond:
Nike's latest "We Play Real" film continues to recognize Black women and their contributions to society.
"Black women are rarely recognized for the hard work they put in," the brand wrote in a caption. "It's not just magic, they are the real thing."
Narrated by actress and playwright Dominique Fishback, top tier athletes such as Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Caster Semenya and several others are featured.
The body care brand continues to empower women with it's "Think of a Woman" campaign. "The video celebrates and showcases the underrepresented who may not immediately come to mind, helping the viewer uncover the biases we all have unconsciously developed from years of societal programming," the brand said in a statement.
The hair and skin care company recently creating an Emerging Visionary Grant which is a program to support Black women creatives who are using art to make change within their communities. In partnership with cultural education platform Good Mirrors, ten individuals will receive grants of $5,000 each totaling a donation of $50,000.
Puma released a purple-inspired footwear and apparel collection as the color signifies justice and dignity and is one of the hues used to symbolize Internation Women's Day.
The IWD collection comes shortly after the brand launched "She Moves Us" which is an initiative that brought together Puma's top ambassadors such as Dua Lipa, Cara Delevingne and Lauren London to celebrate woman who have moved culture and sports forward.
This month, Target has rolled out a new "Woman Owned" icon to make it easier for shoppers to support women-owned brands.
Casetify has created an inspiring "Her Impact Matters" collection of phone cases with sayings such as "misogyny bores me" and "women's rights are human rights."
Each design is by a female aritst and $5 will be donated for every case sold to Equality Now.
Adidas kicked off Women's History Month by launching its "Watch Us Move" global campaign created to accelerate the brand's commitment to creating an inclusive space for women. The initiative features a series of products and workouts that focus on inclusivity in sports.
This series features body positive yoga expert Jessamyn Stanley, Paralympic medalist and motivational speaker Denise Schindler and several other powerful women.
The mega-beauty brand revealed its "Go For IT" campaign which was created to inspire and encourage its community to spread messages and actions of confidence and support.
Additionally, in partnership with global nonprofit Kiva, IT Cosmetics has invited shoppers to loan as little as $25 to women business owners on International Women's Day. For each donation made, the cosmetics companied matched (up to $100,000 U.S. dollars) with a pledge to provide $2 million by 2030 to support women-led businesses.
Old Navy partnered with artist Jade Purple Brown to create shirts that celebrate "sisters, besties, girl groups, lady communes" as captioned in a photo of the empowering tops.
"Together, we're imagining a more inclusive future through art," the caption continued.
BH Cosmetics partnered up with Step Up Women's Network to create an empowering Give Back Step Up eyeshadow palette. The brand has also pledged to donate 100% of net proceeds to helping teenage girls in underserved communities to fullfill their potential.
Source: By JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News
Regional fintech company WiPay Caribbean has recruited, with immediate effect, former Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Deputy Governor Livingstone Morrison as chairman of its board of directors.
The announcement of Morrison’s appointment was made last weekend by the start-up company, which has operations in Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and its home base in Barbados. Morrison’s appointment is seen as crucial as he will be offering regulatory guidance and insight, as WiPay work towards reshaping the Caribbean’s financial landscape.
In his capacity as BOJ deputy governor, Morrison had responsibility for administration and technical services, finance and technology and payment system and risk management. In addition, he has served as chairman of the Regulatory and Market Oversight Committee of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) and is a director of the Jamaica Central Securities Depository Limited (JCSD) as well as the JCSD Trustee Services Limited.
WIPAY STRIVING FOR FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND CONNECTED CARIBBEAN
Both entities are subsidiaries of the JSE, which regulates Jamaica’s equities market. In welcoming Morrison to WiPay, chief executive officer and founder of WiPay Caribbean, Aldwyn Wayne, remarked that, “Morrison’s understanding of the regulatory framework will assist WiPay in achieving its long-term vision of financial inclusion and a connected Caribbean.”
WiPay Jamaica Country Manager Kitwe McCann, who also commented on Morrison’s appointment, said, “WiPay is resolved in its commitment to addressing the financial inclusion and needs of the unbanked and underserved, which will be well served and guided experience that Morrison brings with him. As a former deputy governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Morrison’s direction will be key in navigating the regulatory space and building upon our financial awareness.”
READY FOR THE CHALLENGE
In his response Morrison stated, “I welcome the opportunity to serve as chairman of the board of directors of WiPay Jamaica. WiPay, in a relatively short period of time, has grown to become the leading fintech company in the Caribbean.”
He noted that as the novel coronavirus pandemic dislocate families and organisations and disrupt economic activity, it should be clear to all that wider access and utilisation of digital financial services must be embraced as an integral part of Jamaica’s economic recovery. Morrison is looking forward to leading the WiPay board in guiding the company through the next phase of its development.
The new WiPay chairman is committed to supporting stakeholders, including Government, regulators and financial institutions, in providing the vast majority of Jamaicans with financial services that satisfy their need for access, safety, efficiency and competitive prices. Morrison holds a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Oxford and is a graduate of The University of the West Indies.
In three years, WiPay’s platform has emerged as the Caribbean’s leading online payment solution. In its first year, WiPay partnered with Republic Bank, the Caribbean’s largest bank, and the following year partnered with MasterCard and was the first registered PayFac (payment facilitator) in the region registered by both MasterCard and Visa Networks.
Most recently WiPay announced its partnership with EMTECH to create and develop a regional settlement network based around Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) with participating central banks.
Source: Caribbean Business Report
When Covid-19 shut down the U.S. economy in March, Elon Musk had a rocket to launch.
The billionaire's space exploration venture, SpaceX, was planning to blast a crewed spacecraft into the sky in May and wanted to stay on schedule. That meant finding a way to keep facilities safely open and limit the spread of Covid-19, a challenge when tests were in short supply.
To monitor the prevalence of the virus among SpaceX workers nationwide, Mr. Musk and the rocket company's top medical executive worked with doctors and academic researchers to build an antibody-testing program. More than 4,000 SpaceX workers volunteered for monthly blood tests.
This week the group published its findings, which suggest that a certain threshold of antibodies might provide people lasting protection against the virus. Mr. Musk is listed as a co-author of the peer-reviewed study, which appears in the journal Nature Communications.
"People can have antibodies, but it doesn't mean they are going to be immune" to Covid-19, said Galit Alter, a co-author of the study who is a member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. Individuals who experienced fewer, milder Covid-19 symptoms generated fewer antibodies and were therefore less likely to meet the threshold for longer-term immunity, the study found.
The idea is one that other researchers are exploring as they and public-health officials try to understand Covid-19 immunity.
"To really nail this down at a public-health level would require doing reinfection studies and following people for reinfection" over time, said Joshua T. Schiffer, associate professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's vaccine and infectious-disease division.
As vaccines roll out slowly across the globe, the scientists who studied SpaceX workers say their findings could be used to inform who is most vulnerable to the virus and should be vaccinated first. For example, those with no antibodies in areas with high case counts could get priority, Dr. Alter said.
Companies from Alphabet Inc.'s Google to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. offer Covid-19 diagnostic tests to get a moment-in-time snapshot of who is infected. Few businesses have regularly tested worker blood samples for antibodies.
Representatives for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the official name of the closely held Southern California company, declined to comment on the testing.
Mr. Musk, who is chief executive officer of SpaceX and of Tesla Inc. and has decried shutdown orders, took a personal interest in the research and had the scientists brief him and top SpaceX executives during the pandemic on how antibodies and vaccines work, Dr. Alter said.
Mr. Musk in November said he tested positive for the virus. "Mild sniffles & cough & slight fever past few days," he tweeted at the time.
Dr. Alter, who studies immunology and the molecular mechanisms of how antibodies fight diseases, created at the start of the year high-throughput Covid-19 antibody testing. Her work attracted investments from the hedge-fund manager Nancy Zimmerman, former Soros Fund Management CEO Mark Schwartz and his wife, Lisa Schwartz, as well as a host of philanthropies (among them the Musk Foundation) and government agencies.
In April 2020, when Covid tests were scarce, SpaceX contacted Eric Nilles, an infectious-disease expert at Harvard, and he enlisted Dr. Alter's help.
Together with SpaceX's medical director, Anil Menon, they built a testing program. SpaceX recruited workers from California to Florida who were willing to have their blood tested monthly starting in April.
Before the pandemic, Dr. Menon had set up medical facilities at SpaceX worksites across the country. SpaceX has sent astronauts and aims to eventually send civilians into orbit. He used some of those facilities to quickly scale up blood-drawing stations and recruited medical interns from local hospitals to collect samples.
In May, SpaceX launched a successful test flight of its Dragon capsule in Florida carrying two astronauts.
In June, samples Dr. Alter processed from local workers foretold worsening cases in Texas. Instead of a typical 3% positivity rate for the virus, 12% of the samples suggested infection. She reran them multiple times and confirmed that they were correct, which led the company to send infected workers home and advise them to isolate.
Of the roughly 4,000 SpaceX workers tested multiple times, 300 became infected with Covid-19. Researchers had enough data on 120 people to dig deeper into their infections and subsequent levels of antibodies to draw conclusions in the study.
The median age of that small sample was 31, and 92% of them were male, which the authors acknowledge might skew their findings because people of different ages and backgrounds present different immune-system responses. The study included test results between April and June.
"The good news is most of the vaccines induce [antibody] levels way higher than these levels" for people who get both doses, Dr. Alter said. "So far it is pretty clear that we are hitting levels that are orders of magnitude higher with vaccination."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that having antibodies may provide some protection, but it is unknown how long it may last. Researchers and diagnostic companies are working to understand what level of antibodies confers immunity.
"It would be great to have a clear numerical cutoff to say...above this level [of antibodies] you're protected, below you're not, but we don't have such a cutoff right now," said Philip Dormitzer, Pfizer Inc.'s viral-vaccine research-and-development chief.
SpaceX and its research partners continue testing each month and are now monitoring for reinfection, particularly as mutations spread, researchers involved in those efforts said. So far, they have observed some reinfection among workers who were found to have low levels of Covid-19 antibodies in past testing.
In November, the company launched four astronauts into orbit as part of its first operational mission with humans on board.
Source: Fox Business
The tweet was then retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Shortly after, Signal tweeted that it was working to handle the surge of new users.
This isn't the first time Musk has publicly sparred with Facebook over privacy concerns. In 2018, he not only had his own personal Facebook page removed, but those of his companies Tesla and SpaceX. His take on the long-fought battle between Signal and WhatsApp isn't off-base, though.
Both of the encrypted messaging apps have been found to have security bugs over the years that have been resolved. For years, WhatsApp has openly collected certain user data to share with parent company Facebook. Its latest policy change just expands that. Signal, on the other hand, has a history of fighting any entity that asks for your data, and adds features to further anonymize you where possible.
What Signal is, and how encrypted messaging works Signal is a typical one-tap install app that can be found in your normal marketplaces like Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store, and works just like the usual text messaging app. It's an open source development provided free of charge by the non-profit Signal Foundation, and has been famously used for years by high-profile privacy icons like Edward Snowden.
Signal's main function is that it can send text, video, audio and picture messages protected by end-to-end encryption, after verifying your phone number and letting you independently verify other Signal users' identity. You can also use it to make voice and video calls, either one-to-one or with a group. For a deeper dive into the potential pitfalls and limitations of encrypted messaging apps, CNET's Laura Hautala's explainer is a life-saver. But for our purposes, the key to Signal is encryption.
Despite the buzz around the term, end-to-end encryption is simple: Unlike normal SMS messaging apps, it garbles up your messages before sending them, and only ungarbles them for the verified recipient. This prevents law enforcement, your mobile carrier and other snooping entities from being able to read the contents of your messages even when they intercept them (which happens more often than you might think).
When it comes to privacy it's hard to beat Signal's offer. It doesn't store your user data. And beyond its encryption prowess, it gives you extended, onscreen privacy options, including app-specific locks, blank notification pop-ups, face-blurring anti-surveillance tools, and disappearing messages. Occasional bugs have proven that the tech is far from bulletproof, of course, but the overall arc of Signal's reputation and results have kept it at the top of every privacy-savvy person's list of identity protection tools.
For years, the core privacy challenge for Signal lay not in its technology but in its wider adoption. Sending an encrypted Signal message is great, but if your recipient isn't using Signal, then your privacy may be nil. Think of it like the herd immunity created by vaccines, but for your messaging privacy.
Now that Musk and Dorsey's endorsements have sent a surge of users to get a privacy booster shot, however, that challenge may be a thing of the past.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is set to bind Japan to a target for carbon neutrality by 2050, a shift in stance that will bring the country in line with the European Union and more than 60 other nations in efforts to combat climate change.
The new target will be announced by Suga when he makes his first address to parliament on Monday, after taking office last month, the Nikkei reported earlier this week.
Japan previously said it would aim to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and achieve net-zero emissions sometime in the latter half of the century.
The move, if confirmed, would make the world’s third-largest economy the second Asian country after South Korea to aim for the 2050 target that is considered the minimum needed to keep global average temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 Celsius.
Japan is the world’s fifth-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the heat trapping gas that scientists say is already causing major heatwaves, bigger and more powerful cyclones and periods of drought around the world.
Under pressure from many business sectors, moves are also afoot to increase the use of renewable energy as the government starts forcing the shutdown of older, dirtier coal plants.
But investors say the apparent change in position is at odds with the country’s plans to roll out new coal stations.
“Any net zero commitment from a coal-intensive economy, such as Japan, has to be coupled with an urgent and credible coal phase out plan to be taken seriously,” Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO of Norway’s Storebrand Asset Management told Reuters.
Storebrand has assets under management of around $90 billion with investments in Japanese companies and has been critical of Japan’s stance on coal.
“Japan’s solar and wind power potential is huge and Prime Minister Suga has the opportunity to accelerate this and embrace a modern and coal-free energy system,” he added.
Pressure has also been building from below with the number of cities, towns and villages aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050 increasing to 163 from 4 in a little over a year, according to the environment ministry.
Still, there are plenty of vested interests to stymie the efforts including from the old power utilities, car and steel makers, along with industrial companies that use coal boilers to produce steam needed for manufacturing purposes, all of whom have plenty of lobbying power.
Companies running smaller, older coal plants are already lobbying the government heavily for exemptions to the plans shut to them down, an official at one of Japan’s trading houses that supplies them with fuel told Reuters this week.
But Japan’s most powerful business federation, known as Keidanren, is now advocating the 2050 target with its chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi pushing the line at the prime minister’s economic advisory council, according to minutes from the Oct. 6 meeting.
A report released in August showed how Keidanren is dominated by energy-intensive sectors representing less than 10% of the economy, resulting in national policies that favour coal and hindering efforts on climate change.
Paused studies of leading Covid-19 vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca AZN 0.08% PLC and Johnson & Johnson JNJ 0.11% are resuming, the companies said Friday.
The restarts mean testing of two of the most advanced Covid-19 vaccines in development can get back on track after their testing had been sidetracked. The testing is crucial for regulators to evaluate whether the vaccines safely protect against the virus and should be given widely.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had wrapped up an examination of two cases of a possible neurological side effect that emerged in two people in studies testing AstraZeneca’s shot, and said a late-stage trial in the U.S. can resume, according to the company.
The AstraZeneca decision, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, came after the FDA didn’t find the vaccine was responsible for the two cases, though the agency couldn’t rule out a link either, a person familiar with the matter said.
The agency plans to require researchers to inform study subjects of the cases and monitor them for any related neurological events, such as numbness, the person said.
The move “allows us to continue our efforts to develop this vaccine to help defeat this terrible pandemic. We should be reassured by the care taken by independent regulators to protect the public and ensure the vaccine is safe before it is approved for use,” AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said in a statement.
J&J said it is preparing to resume a large clinical trial of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, saying it has found no evidence the vaccine caused a serious medical event in a study volunteer.
“Based on the information gathered to date and the input of independent experts, the Company has found no evidence that the vaccine candidate caused the event,” J&J said in a statement.
J&J said it is taking steps to resume the late-stage trial of its vaccine in the U.S. on the recommendation of a panel of independent drug-research experts recommendation. The company said it also is in discussion with regulators in other countries to resume testing there.
Before its testing halt, J&J had said its vaccine could be authorized early next year.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which the company is developing with the University of Oxford, was on pace to be cleared for wide use by the end of this year if it proves to work safely in testing.
Last month, however, AstraZeneca paused trials testing its shot around the world, including in the U.S., after a U.K. woman developed a mysterious neurological illness. A U.S. health official had said the event involved a spinal cord problem.
The illness followed a pause in testing in July after an unexplained illness of a trial subject. Researchers initially told subjects in the study the case involved a neurological disorder known as transverse myelitis. AstraZeneca later said the case turned out to be multiple sclerosis unrelated to the vaccine, and the testing resumed.
Studies testing the vaccine around the world later resumed after regulators outside the U.S. determined it was safe to do so. However, a late-stage trial in the U.S. remained on hold because the FDA was still investigating the two events.
The FDA had spent weeks exploring whether the two cases involved transverse myelitis and whether the vaccine was responsible for the illness, the person said.
Reuters had earlier reported the U.S. trial could resume this week.
The condition refers to inflammation of the spinal cord involving the destruction of a fatty white material, known as myelin, that insulates nerve cell fibers. It impedes the ability of nerves in the spinal cord to send messages to the rest of the body.
Cases are rare, with only about 1,400 diagnosed annually in the U.S. The cause is unknown. It can trigger a variety of symptoms, including weak arms and legs, along with sharp pains, numbness and tingling.
It can sometimes also lead to paraplegia that necessitates wheelchair use.
Experimental vaccines undergo study in trials that progressively test the shots in increasing numbers of volunteers both to test effectiveness and to look for any side effects that could harm people if regulators green light the vaccines and they are then given widely.
To protect trial subjects, independent researchers who didn’t play a role in the vaccine’s development or at the company that would sell it look for any signs that the shot could be harmful. This data-safety monitoring board evaluates side effects in subjects.
Side effects often emerge in trials evaluating drugs and vaccines, and the studies are frequently paused for researchers and regulators to make sure it is safe to go on.
AstraZeneca and J&J were among the drugmakers that pledged to not seek regulators’ permission for widespread use of their Covid-19 vaccines until the shots proved to work safely in late-stage testing.
J&J, of New Brunswick, N.J., had paused trials earlier this month, citing an unexplained illness in a person enrolled in one of the trials. A late-stage, or Phase 3, trial began in September and is aiming to enroll up to 60,000 people in the U.S. and several other countries, to test whether a single dose safely protects people from Covid-19.
J&J didn’t provide further details about the nature of the medical event in the study subject. The company said many possible factors could have caused it, and no clear cause has been identified.
Transverse myelitis is a known side effect of vaccines but is rarely linked to the shots. Other times, it is an early symptom of the nerve-system disease multiple sclerosis, and unrelated to getting a shot.