HuffPost drums up anger by misrepresenting billionaires’ gains

January 17, 2022

By Tim Worstall

Again, the media reports that billionaires made lots of money during the pandemic. Again, it goes unmentioned that billionaires lost lots of money at the beginning of the pandemic. This is purely class – or economic – warfare. The aim is to whip up anger and envy by being deliberately misleading.

Now it’s HuffPost doing it.

“In a report released Sunday, Oxfam detailed how the wealth of billionaires increased more than ever before over the past two years: The 10 richest people in the world — all white men — more than doubled their wealth, from a collective $700 billion to $1.5 trillion,” HuffPost reported. That Oxfam report is here. “The wealth of the 10 richest men has doubled, while the incomes of 99% of humanity are worse off, because of COVID-19”

Oxfam claims to tell us the methodology they’ve used but they don’t the link goes nowhere. However, it is possible to work it out, this is the same thing we complained about in October:

The heart of the complaint is a report from the Institute for Policy Studies that says that America’s billionaires made $1.8 trillion during the pandemic. This is only true if you’re entirely biased in your measurements. The S&P 500 – just to use one stock market measure – was at 3380 on February 14, 2020, and at 2,304 on March 18, 2020. That’s a 32% decline in those billionaires’ fortunes on the stock market. Or, to be more accurate, a 32% decline in capitalist fortunes on the stock market. So when do they start measuring? On March 18, of course.

They are using the same calculation date. Eliminating the fall on the stock markets as it became clear how bad covid was going to be and only counting from the low point before the recovery started.

That’s terrible from Oxfam, but then we might expect it from them. They are no more than a campaign organization these days, and one with left-wing and ferociously egalitarian views.

HuffPost should do better, though. It does claim to be a media, not propaganda, outfit. In fact, it’s listed at No. 27 in online media outlets. It gains some 66 million visits a month. This sort of media position brings with it a certain responsibility. Which is to not just blindly take dictation, but to actually report. Place claims being made into proportion, to test them for the sense of them.

The claims of massive increase in billionaire wealth all depend upon only starting to count after the fall in wealth as a result of covid but including every red cent of that rise from that low point. That’s grossly misleading – HuffPost should know better, even if Oxfam obviously doesn’t.


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