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How (and why) Germany’s super rich list is growing in the pandemic

Both the number of super-rich in Germany, and their shared wealth, has grown since April, according to new study by the consulting firm PwC and the major Swiss bank UBS published on Wednesday.

How (and why) Germany's super rich list is growing in the pandemic
Photo: DPA

Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of billionaires in Germany grew from 114 to 119, according to the study published on Wednesday.

In Germany, the net assets of these ultra-rich rose to 594.9 billion US dollars by the end of July, following a slump at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in April. 

At the last survey conducted in March 2019, their total wealth amassed 500.9 billion dollars. 

After the outbreak of the pandemic, the German dollar billionaires achieved the greatest growth in the areas of technology (with their investments and assets in the field going up by 46 percent), health care (plus 12 percent) and finance (plus 11 percent).

Germany also continues to have the third largest number of millionaires in the world, according to the World Wealth Report published in July 2020.

READ ALSO: This is how many millionaires live in Germany

“Covid-19 is now disproportionately accelerating asset growth in innovation-driven areas such as the technology or healthcare sectors, thereby causing a shift in wealth,” said Maximilian Kunkel, UBS chief investment officer for Germany.

He said that traditionally the wealth of high-net worth circles in Germany remains relatively unchanged, even in turbulent times. 

According to Kunkel, entrepreneurs in these sectors have benefited in recent months, among other things, from the fact that short-term earnings losses have been limited, while long-term prospects have improved, sometimes significantly.

This map shows the number of billionaires (in green) and their total wealth in billions of US dollars (in yellow) as of the end of July 2020. Graph: DPA

Who are the richest Germans after the coronavirus crisis?

According to a recently published ranking by “Manager Magazin”, the richest Germans are likely to be the Reimann family of entrepreneurs, who have large shares in many daily cleaning and cosmetic products, with assets estimated at €32 billion. 

In second place is Lidl founder Dieter Schwarz with estimated assets of €30 billion. The siblings Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt, who own almost half of BMW shares, were named named third.

Their assets had fallen by €1.5 billion to an estimated €25 billion as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 

In contrast, a list published by the “Welt am Sonntag” on September 20th came to the conclusion that Lidl founder Schwarz is the richest German – with estimated assets of €41.8 billion. 

In second place comes the Reimann family with €21.45 billion.

However, even the super rich were affected by the turbulence at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, which caused, among other things, a sharp drop in prices on the stock markets.

According to the study, the weeks immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic in particular contributed to the fact that the total global assets of billionaires shrank by around 6.6 percent to 8 trillion dollars between March 2019 and April 2020. 

The club of the super-rich lost 43 members at times. 

From April onwards, a phase of recovery set in, in which total assets increased by around 28 percent by the end of July 2020.

Wealth rising around the globe

The coronavirus crisis has made the super-rich around the globe even richer. By the end of July, the total assets of the more than 2,000 dollar billionaires worldwide had risen to a record level of around 10.2 trillion dollars (€8.7 trillion), thanks in part to the recovery on the stock markets. 

According to the study, this was largely due to rapid growth in the fields of technology and healthcare, as is also the case in Germany.

The enormous fortune is thus divided between 2,189 men and women. Converted into euros, the sum is more than twice as high as the total annual economic output of Germany as the largest economy in Europe (in 2019 it was just just under €3.5 trillion). 

Cash, real estate, luxury goods, shares and company assets were taken into account. Liabilities were deducted.


 

COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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