If you're a billionaire and you haven't been able to increase your net worth in the last nine months, you might want to call your accountant. Never in history has there been a more extreme period of the rich getting richer. The 10 richest people in the world have seen their net worths rise by a collective $300 billion since January 1st.
Bernard Arnault, currently the world's third richest person, has seen the largest net worth gain of anyone on the planet. Between January and today the LVMH honcho's net worth has increased $47 billion. In other words, he started the year with a net worth of $115 billion and currently has a net worth of $162 billion. Not that net worth really increases this way, but if you were to average Bernards net worth gain on a day-to-day basis, his fortune has increased $193 million per day since January 1.
Looking at a list of the world's 500 richest billionaires, 380 of them have seen their fortunes rise since January 1st. In other words, 75% of the world's richest billionaires have seen their net worths rise in the last nine months. And actually, that number is a little diluted thanks to China.
Of the 120 billionaires who have lost wealth since the beginning of the year, 42 are Chinese citizens. If you stripped out Chinese billionaires, 82% of billionaires on the planet have gained money since January 1.
So let me repeat. Any billionaire out there who has manged to lose money in the last nine months is seriously screwing the pooch. The stock market is hitting a new all-time record every other day. Dogecoin has a market cap of $36 billion. Children are literally becoming millionaires thanks off jpeg files. A billionaire should be able to throw the front page of the Wall Street Journal and make millions.
But let's get back to those Chinese billionaires for a moment.
In 2021 the government of China has basically declared war on its billionaires (and celebrities). Roughly half of all Chinese billionaires have seen their fortunes dip in 2021. And not just by a few million or hundred million. A good number of Chinese fortunes have dropped by tens of billions this year.
And no one on the planet has lost more in 2021 than Colin Huang.
Colin is the founder of Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo (PDD).
Founded in 2015, PDD has a couple interesting products. Their main product connects farmers and distributors. Let's say you grow mushrooms. PDD matches you up with both a buyer who is willing to pay the most for your crop AND a shipping company to deliver the crop to that buyer at the lowest price.
Another product allows consumers to gang up to order groceries, clothes, gadgets and kitchen items in bulk to negotiate deep discounts. In 2020, nearly 800 million people made a transaction on PDD.
Colin actually stepped down from PDD in March 2021 right around when the company's stock price peaked at $200 a share. The stock dropped 17% after he announced his decision to step down.
Today PDD is trading at $100 a share.
Another explanation for the stock's drop is a general pull-back in e-commerce sales as people in China are no longer stuck at home ordering everything online due to COVID-19.
The larger explanation is a growing fear that the Chinese government is going to crack down on the country's largest tech companies through antitrust probes. For example, in May, Chinese regulators fined Jack Ma's Alibaba nearly $3 billion for breaking monopoly laws. Chinese stock investors are very nervous that regulators are just getting warmed up.
$30 Billion Wealth Drop
On January 1, 2021, Colin had a net worth of $63 billion. His net worth peaked at $75 billion when the stock was in the to $200 range in February.
Today his net worth is $33 billion. That's a $30 billion drop since the beginning of the year and a $42 billion drop since the February peak.
Even just using the year-to-date number, a $30 billion drop is the largest loss of wealth experienced by anyone on the planet in the last year.
It will be interesting to see if Colin's drop stabilizes or is just getting started.
Perhaps to appease Chinese regulators, Colin has been on a bit of a philanthropy spree recently. He has pledged around 2.4% of his PDD stake to a charitable trust and another 7.7% to a fund to support scientific research.
If you can't beat em, bribe em with charity!