The stock market has inched its way to one record high after another this year, with the S&P 500 gaining a solid if unspectacular 3.5 percent so far. That rise has enriched investors by some $900 billion in 2015, as Matt Krantz at USA Today points out.
As Krantz also notes, though, some shareholders have done far, far better than the broader market. Jeff Bezos, for example.
The Amazon CEO has benefitted from a 40 percent rise in his company’s stock in 2015, adding a whopping $9.5 billion in paper gains to his already sizable net worth to lift it to $38.2 billion, good enough for 11th highest in the world, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
As well as Bezos has done, four foreign billionaires have actually made more in 2015: Pan Sutong, chairman of Hong Kong investment conglomerate Goldin Group, has made more than $20 billion; Wang Jianlin, the founder and chairman of another Chinese conglomerate, Dalian Wanda, has made $19.4 billion; Zhou Qunfei, China’s richest woman, has added nearly $11 billion; and Patrick Drahi, the French chairman and largest shareholder of Luxembourg-based telecom company Altice, has gained $9.7 billion.
Bezos may be far ahead of the U.S. pack, but the USA Today analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ shows some other CEOs of American companies have fared extremely well as a result of their stock holdings, too. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has made more than $1 billion on paper, while Google’s Larry Page has gained just under $1 billion. And as shares of drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance have surged more than 11 percent this year, acting CEO Stefano Pessina has profited to the tune of $645.6 million. The CEOs of salesforce.com, Under Armour, Starbucks, Mohawk Industries, Constellation Brands and Netflix have all seen paper gains of more than $260 million so far in 2015.
You can see USA Today’s full list here.
As expected, groups representing hospitals sued the Trump administration Wednesday to stop a new regulation would require them to make public the prices for services they negotiate with insurers. Claiming the rule “is unlawful, several times over,” the industry groups, which include the American Hospital Association, say the rule violates their First Amendment rights, among other issues.
"The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule," the suit says. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said that hospitals “should be ashamed that they aren’t willing to provide American patients the cost of a service before they purchase it.”
Between December 2017 and July 2019, enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) fell by 1.9 million, or 2.6%. The Kaiser Family Foundation provided an analysis of that drop Monday, saying that while some of it was likely caused by enrollees finding jobs that offer private insurance, a significant portion is related to enrollees losing health insurance of any kind. “Experiences in some states suggest that some eligible people may be losing coverage due to barriers maintaining coverage associated with renewal processes and periodic eligibility checks,” Kaiser said.
Billionaire John D. Arnold, a former energy trader and hedge fund manager turned philanthropist with a focus on health care, says Big Pharma appears to have a powerful hold on members of Congress.
Arnold pointed out that PhRMA, the main pharmaceutical industry lobbying group, had revenues of $459 million in 2018, and that total lobbying on behalf of the sector probably came to about $1 billion last year. “I guess $1 bil each year is an intractable force in our political system,” he concluded.
The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin says Elizabeth Warren’s proposed taxes could claim more than 100% of income for some wealthy investors. Here’s an example Rubin discussed Friday:
“Consider a billionaire with a $1,000 investment who earns a 6% return, or $60, received as a capital gain, dividend or interest. If all of Ms. Warren’s taxes are implemented, he could owe 58.2% of that, or $35 in federal tax. Plus, his entire investment would incur a 6% wealth tax, i.e., at least $60. The result: taxes as high as $95 on income of $60 for a combined tax rate of 158%.”
In Rubin’s back-of-the-envelope analysis, an investor worth $2 billion would need to achieve a return of more than 10% in order to see any net gain after taxes. Rubin notes that actual tax bills would likely vary considerably depending on things like location, rates of return, and as-yet-undefined policy details. But tax rates exceeding 100% would not be unusual, especially for billionaires.