In a single day this week, bloody Monday, the 500 richest people in the world lost nearly $140 billion because of the coronavirus panic that shaved almost 1,000 points off the Dow after a weekend of updated infection numbers and a rising death toll.
Tuesday wasn’t faring any better. By 12:35pm EST, the Dow had lost around 357 points on the day, and the world’s wealthy were adding multiple billions more to their collective losses.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, lost nearly $5 billion on Monday. Bernard Arnault, the French luxury goods tycoon, lost a similar amount, and Inditex fashion group CEO Amancio Ortego lost $4 billion.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg also shed $3.4 billion when FB lost 4.5% on Monday.
Bill Gates got away with a smaller hit than some of the others, losing $1.5 billion.
Tesla--which has been surging phenomenally--lost 7.5% on Monday, shaving $2.4 billion from Elon Musk’s wealth.
Based on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, this is the biggest loss in wealth for the world’s top 500 billionaires since the index launched in Q3 2016.
Luxury goods tycoons are getting hit hard because China accounts for some 40% of the market for these goods.
The tourism market is also being bludgeoned, with cruise-line operators also among the biggest losers as the coronavirus continues to spread. Key cruise-line operators lost around 9% on Monday, and Carnival Chairman MIcky Arison saw his net wealth drop by over $400 million.
The last time the market saw a sizable loss for the world’s wealthiest 500 was on August 4th, 2019, when markets floundered over a sudden perceived uptick in tensions between the U.S. and China. On that day, the wealthiest 500 lost 2.1% of the collective net worth, or a total of $117 billion, again with Bezos losing $3.4 billion as Amazon shares plunged.
The loss was less dramatic, and the cause was less tangible and based more on sentiment than fundamentals.
The coronavirus combines both in equal parts, with a shutdown in demand from China fundamentally hitting multiple industries.
With the wealth pouring out of the richest coffers, is it time to panic sell stocks? Depends who you ask.
If you ask Warren Buffett, it’s time for neither. It’s all about holding.
But he’s never been one for doing business on headlines.
“The real question is: ‘Has the 10-year or 20-year outlook for American businesses changed in the last 24 or 48 hours?’” Buffet told CNBC.
You don’t buy and sell businesses such as Coca-Cola or American Express based on the day’s headlines, Buffet suggested. The only exception is if the day’s news gives you a chance to buy one of those even cheaper, “...then it’s good luck”.
By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com
More Top Reads From Safehaven.com: