Elon Musk, the new owner of social media platform Twitter and the chief executive of automaker Tesla, has lost more of his wealth this year than any other billionaire.
More than $115 billion evaporated from the entrepreneur’s coffers since the beginning of the year, according to an estimate from Forbes, largely because most of his net worth stems from Tesla, for which stock prices have fallen 67% since the beginning of the year.
Musk generated countless media headlines this year amid his acquisition of Twitter and work to publicize the censorious actions undertaken by former management. There exists evidence that reforms at the social media company are producing ire among Democratic-leaning customers at Tesla, impacting the brand’s value and thereby leading to hesitance among investors.
The world’s second-richest man has remarked that he still oversees Tesla and SpaceX, where he says the teams “are so good that often little is needed” from him.
Musk has been the frequent object of scorn among left-wing lawmakers, who accuse him of neglecting to pay his fair share of taxes despite the $11 billion check he cut for the government last year. The multibillionaire previously moved Tesla’s headquarters to Texas after antagonism from officials in California, where Musk said he grew increasingly frustrated as government lockdowns prevented the reopening of his companies during the spring of 2020.
This year was also marked by a number of high-profile individuals losing their status as billionaires. A number of brands cut ties with Ye, the rapper previously known as Kanye West, after he made anti-Semitic remarks and praised Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, while the cryptocurrency empire led by former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried evaporated after users learned that the disgraced founder had commingled funds between the digital asset exchange and trading firm Alameda Research.
American billionaires lost a combined $660 billion, exceeding the losses from the ultra-rich citizens of other nations. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos lost $80 billion, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin lost $40 billion each, and Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg lost $78 billion. As with Musk, the losses were primarily tied to poor stock performance.
Although losses in the United States exceeded the $620 billion loss faced by Chinese moguls, the latter group shed the most wealth in percentage terms as the nation experiences economic pressures from harsh lockdown policies and a resultant exodus from foreign manufacturers. Among the Chinese billionaires who suffered the most losses was Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma, who saw more than $13 billion vanish this year.
Billionaires in Russia lost a combined $470 billion as the nation invaded neighboring Ukraine, leading many foreign powers to introduce a new round of sanctions. However, several billionaires in developing countries had a blockbuster year: Indonesian coal magnate Low Tuck Kwong gained $16 billion while Indian industrialist Gautam Adani gained over $55 billion, rendering him the world’s third-richest man.
Even beyond the global elite, the wealth of everyday people has plummeted as the global economy took a beating from geopolitical turmoil, runaway inflation, and persistent supply chain bottlenecks. Americans saving for retirement saw their IRA balances fall year-over-year by an average of 25% in the third quarter, while 401(k) balances dropped 23%, according to research from Fidelity Investments.