back to article Top 5 billionaires find that global pandemics are good for business – and their wallets

Astounding though it is, there are members of the human race about whom it can confidently be said: "Look, they're having a good pandemic." As Europe looks set to be submerged by a second wave of COVID-19 with France's Marseille hospitals near breaking point and the UK's test-and-trace systems in tatters, tech billionaires are …

  1. Sykowasp

    Corporate Billionaires - the New Aristocracy - made wealthy from a siphon of money from everybody else without paying it back.

    I feel we need some expert advice. Let's see ... hmm, I think the French has an idea what to do with indolent hoarding aristocrats.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      We need a Tesla tumbrel.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      The solution

      As Rousseau said, albeit in French "Eat the Rich". Zuck Nuggets anyone?

      1. Pier Reviewer

        Re: Zuck Nuggets

        I think I’ve just become vegetarian.

      2. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: The solution

        I thought the quote was from Aerosmith ^^

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      when you hear about chuck feeney..

      it shows up the likes of Musk and Bezos for the greedy bastards they are.

      This is the man who in secret gave away ALL his billions & it only really got put in the papers properly when his charity foundation finally ran out of money. The guy who encouraged Bill gates and Buffet to promise to give away 1/2 thier money. Amazing man

    4. SundogUK Silver badge

      Great. Invent a problem and solve it by killing people. Just what we need.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All that money in the United States, and every day when I drive home there are people standing by the road as I get of the Interstate, they are homeless and begging. It looks like most of the time they get either nothing or a dollar because they are always standing there. I only hand out $20 bills and then they leave the road because they can finally afford a meal. People tell me that I'm being faked when they hear that I do this, but I'd rather be faked than refuse to give money to someone who's starving. I'm not rich but when I was a kid I was poor.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      true story

      Back in the 90's my friend's family owned a bar in the Chicago Loop near the Chicago Board of Trade, they were open for lunch. He told me the 'beggars' would come in to cash in their coins, it was not uncommon for them to cash in $100.00 at a time, he loved it because he rarely needed to hit the bank for coins.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: true story

        I was walking back home along the canal in Oxford with my buddy in the 70's and a begger came out of the bridge arch to ask for a shilling, my buddy told him we were just students and didn't have any money (that was true) and the guy stuck his hand into his pocket, gave us eight half crowns and wished us good luck.

        1. Alan Mackenzie

          Re: true story

          Ha ha! The irony!

          Half crowns (2 shillings and sixpence) ceased to be legal tender in 1971 at the time the pound was decimalised. Eight of them would have been worth a pound, at a time when a pound was a lot of money. I hope you got your gift _very_ early in the 70s. ;-)

        2. N2

          Re: true story

          Half a crown, that was proper money back then and you could but 5 Mars bars a foot long...

          Eh, them were the days

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Herd immunity = mutation = mass death = unlimited profits

    Look at the Trump strategy, the one he got from the Fox News pundit Dr Atlas:

    Spread it as widely as possible. Let everyone catch it, people die, the rest have herd immunity.

    330 million US citizens, 1% death rate optimistically, that's 3.3 million dead. That's more than 12 Hiroshimas.

    It's like Trump dropped 12 Hiroshimas sized nuclear weapons on 12 US cities and killed 12 times the death toll that those World War 2 nukes killed.


    We have no herd immunity for the Flu. It spreads widely, it mutates often and new strains spread continuously. That flu-shot you get for the flu, that's the latest vaccines for last years strains of flu. It lags the Flu virus. It's out of date even as you're getting the injection.

    If you attempt Herd immunity for Corona Virus, you will never have a vaccine and will never eradicate it.

    The death toll will be ongoing, you will continuously be getting vaccine shots to protect you from the strains for which there is a vaccine and hoping you don't get the new strains.

    The vaccine companies will love it, it gives them unlimited profits forever.

    The Fed will print so much fooking funny money, they already struggle to find enough ways to give the money to billionaires, they've been giving out fake "loans" that don't need to be repaid, and Trump's economic advisor was proposing a "capital gains tax" holiday for rich people so they didn't have to pay tax on all the free printed money they are getting from Trump.

    Not 12 Hiroshimas. He'll kill 12 Hiroshimas worth of Americans EACH YEAR.

    Where exactly are you going to take care of the 15% of people who need hospital treatment to get the 1% death rate you are seeking? See Marseille here? It's hospitals are full already.

    USA is screwed. 1% death toll is really optimistic if you overrun your hospital capacity.

    Now we get the Red states, the Republicans, deliberately reducing testing in their states to make the number of daily cases lower. You have Trump saying "if you take out the blue states the numbers look great". So it's clearly the election plan there, reduce testing in red states, accuse blue states of failing, get re-elected on the back of the lie.

    They don't care if their voters die, they don't care if Republicans in Republican states die. Just as long as they vote based on the lie, then die later, after the election.

    By the time it becomes clear from the "excess deaths" numbers, the election will be past, and you can reveal you've sentenced X million to death. Ha ha, too late, they already voted.

    Dr Atlas, turned out to be Dr Death, he didn't give you a roadmap, he's not even an immunologist or know anything, he was just a Fox News talking head, he wrote your death certificate and got handsomely paid to do so by the Hoover institute.

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    Its all virtual

    I have a modest amount of savings and I too have become noticeably richer over the last few months. Its all Monopoly Money, though -- numbers on a bank statement. I might be able to turn this windfall into cash but if a number of us try to do this at the same time the value of the securities will plummet. If I'm successful at cashing out then I'm going to have to pay Capital Gains Tax on my profits (in the US its 22.5% or 15% depending on 'long term' or 'short term' gains).

    There's far too much emphasis on stock prices as a measure of wealth at the moment. You can't see a discussion on any business in the press -- virus vaccine, electric vehicles, semiconductors, civil aircraft, Chinese applications, whatever -- without it immediately pivoting to how it affects the stock price. I know that Milton Friedman was the apostle that said the only purpose of business was to "maximize shareholder value" but he's dead wrong because he never defined what 'value' is -- its immediately equated with 'stock price' and if that can be goosed by financial wheeling and dealing then that's as valid as developing a solid business. Since wheeling and dealing makes more money in the short term we gradually hollow out our economies, offshoring the tedious substance while enjoying the froth. This isn't sustainable.

    The rise in securities prices should be worrying because its a measure of inflation. You pour money into the economy by printing it then that money's got to end up somewhere and it ends up inflating asset prices. If you own assets then that's great. If you're just an ordinary working stiff then you're being systematically screwed -- and moaning about how its 'no fair' isn't going to fix it.

    1. AVee

      Re: Its all virtual

      It's not just stock prices, pretty much any value needs to be expressed in terms of money or it doesn't exist. And to make things worse it's always aggregated as well, GDP, average buying power, style like that. Sadly very little of that relates to day to day live.

      To quote Douglas Adams:

      "This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most

      of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time.

      Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of

      these were largely concerned with the movements of small green

      pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the

      small green pieces of paper that were unhappy."

      1. cyberdemon Silver badge

        The road to Hell

        And to quote Chris Rea:

        And all the roads jam up with credit / And there's nothing you can do / It's all just bits of paper / Flying away from you // Look out world take a good look / What goes down here // You must learn this lesson fast / And learn it well.. // This ain't no upwardly mobile freeway / Oh no, this is the road to Hell..

        Yep, at the end of the day, it really is all just bits of paper. (if you're lucky! If you're unlucky, all your accumulated wealth is no more than a database row).

        A billion or ten in the bank might buy you a nice remote island, complete with self-sufficient farm & family-sized nuclear bunker complete with a good Internet & global knowledge archive, with every book ever printed. And enough weapons to sink a flotilla of refugee ships. But only if you buy it NOW, before the shit hits the fan.

        Shall we have a sweep-stake on how long it will be before WWIII is declared? (or until the next nuke goes off in anger?) Will Britain or the US or the Balkan states have civil wars first? What will global populations do when the lights go off and the food runs out?

        We have a pandemic which (as TFM says) simply shifts all the wealth upwards, while the poor drop off (dead) - we have wildfires & human activity pushing up global temperatures, driving crop failures and insect plagues, and we have a geopolitical and economic system that is reaching breaking point.

        We have thousands of people here in the UK who are about to be made homeless as the ban on evictions is lifted tomorrow, while the second wave threatens to send even more ordinary folk into economic ruin..

        In a few months we will have Brexit (again, great for Billionaires, terrible for the rest of us), so we won't be able to call on our friends for help, since we just spat in their faces. Our food will rot in the lorries as it takes the long way round via northern Ireland (some of it may be blown up by a resurgent IRA along the way) and we are likely to have severe power cuts, if the connectors from Europe that we rely on suddenly become too expensive..

        And to top it off, we will most likely need to crown a new King next year. I can't see the poor old Queen living to 96. We will have new division lines & conflict between royalists, anti-royalists, and those of us who don't really care one way or the other except please can we avoid accidentally making Dominic Cummings the new King.. Our armed forces (what's left of them) might not agree on who they work for anymore.. Our legal system would be open to even more usurp by an increasingly corrupt government..

        Someone stop the world, I wish to get off.

      2. Muscleguy

        Re: Its all virtual

        Unless you are making your own home alcohol which you are not allowed to sell. I have 7 gallons of fruit, flower and herb wine maturing at the moment. Also about 2/3 of a gallon of cider left. Gearing up to make beer from grain, hops, water and yeast (prob pinched from a bottle of bottle conditioned beer). It will be very real and valueless since I cannot legally exchange it for other value.


  5. Danny 2

    going viral

    My youngest niece just caught the plague at Liverpool Uni. She says she's fine and it's no big deal, she just dated a boy with no sense of taste. My sister told her, "Well, I can't help you if you date men with no taste."

    We're well into the second Autumn wave, and the third Winter wave will be deadlier. So no relatives at Christmas, certainly not my stop-out, minging, clarty niece.

    1. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: going viral

      Thank you for giving me three more slang words to add to my vocabulary. Please accept a ===> for your trouble.

      1. Danny 2

        Re: going viral

        Those aren't slang words in Scotland. Stop-out I guess is slut-shaming which I would never normally do, but c'mon, during a pandemic? Today Liverpool Uni announced 87 students and staff had tested positive and I'd bet my niece responsible for at least 20 of them.

        It must be a horrible year to be a teenager, but it's a worse year to be an octogenarian. Don't kill Gran!

  6. czechitout

    Come on guys, FFS. What happened between in the month leading up to the 18th March? This isn't The Guardian, please don't regurgitate these stories with clearly cherry-picked numbers.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      They've even started the figure in the fucking middle of a month - in order to ignore the fact that the markets tumbled in the first 21/2 months of this year and then started going up again as a result of some combination optimism for the future and QE.

      Nobody who does that should be taken seriously. I'm well prepared to believe proper figures to say that companies involved in tech, cloud and online sales (like Amazon, Zoom etc.) have done really well. And those that have founders who own large chunks of the stock are going to mean those founders getting big additions to their paper fortunes. Not that they can sell without tanking the stock-price. But these figures quote in the article are bollocks of the highest order! And you'd expect a bit better from El Reg - i.e. even some basic attempt to look at what the numbers are saying and how they've been so obviously and deliberately distorted.

  7. Muscleguy


    The UK does not have a test and trace system there are various systems due to Devolved govt. The one here in Scotland works so well the privately run systems in Englandshire have been freeloading on it leading many here to wonder if part of the recent spikes in detections here are actually people from England.

  8. Potemkine! Silver badge

    "Roughly the GDP of Puerto Rico"

    What a wonderful World.

    Money calls money. The more you have, the more you get.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    COVID is working out quite well for removing a lot of expensive old and sick people from the system.

    If this continues working well then Boris should be able to offer his pals some more tax breaks come the spring.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge



      It is also freeing up a lot of properties for the whingers to inherit from their grandparents.

      Three bed semis. Four bed detached in the country... but probably mostly bungalows.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like