Elon Musk’s wealth has grown and shrunk billions of dollars over the week due to the stock market, but his rapid fluctuation is only a small bump in the road for him. Despite the changes, his net worth is still over 800,000 times that of the average American. Unlike other Americans, whose income has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19, Musk has $85.5 billion in his pocket. Meanwhile, according to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans are struggling to pay rent.
Tesla, Inc., the company for which Musk is CEO and chairman, underwent a forward stock split. In this split, Tesla stock owners had their number of shares grow from one to five, but the value of their stocks stayed the same. After the stock split last Friday, shares rose 12.6% (according to Forbes). This caused Musk’s net worth to grow $10 billion, making him (temporarily) the third richest man in the world. Now, according to Forbes, Musk’s net worth dropped down to around $85 billion when Tesla stock fell 9.02%.
According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of American believes there is too much income inequality in the US. The growth of the American middle class has been slower than the upper-middle class (top 20%), and trends show that the top 5% earners have experienced the most growth. According to Forbes, in March of this year, Musk was worth $24.6 billion. Since then, Musk has tripled his net worth to over $85 Billion. On the other hand, according to the Federal Reserve, a survey found that 18% of adults were unable to pay their bills for April.
Economic growth, measured by GDP, has been going down in the US since the start of the pandemic (according to the International Monetary Fund). Fortune.com attributes this trend to companies laying off low-level employees and decreased consumer demand. But, despite the country’s economic growth being low, billionaires like Elon Musk have been successfully amassing great fortunes.
However, Musk’s access to money appears to be complicated. According to the Wall Street Journal, he has a massive net worth, but he receives no salary from Tesla, and 50% of his Tesla stock is collateral for loans. Elon Musk tweeted on May 1st, 2020, “I am selling all physical possessions. Will own no house.” He proceeded to put three of his California homes up for sale and told the Wall Street Journal that he was not selling the houses because he was “trying to make my life as simple as possible”. Elon Musk apparently wants to simplify everything and has shifted his focus to the health of humanity.
Last Friday, Musk hosted a product demo for his Brain-Machine Interface (BMI) startup, NeuraLink. Musk’s company made progress on its neural implant on pig test subjects. The implantable device is designed to be placed inside the skull and connect to the brain through electrodes and will allow the mind to interact with the outside world. The implant, named the Link, is about a dollar coin size but a little bit thicker. Musk said he wants his product to be both “affordable and reliable” so that “anyone who wants one [Neuralink] can get one.” According to the New York Times, Musk invested $100 million of his own money into NeuraLink last year.
Musk said the goal of NeuraLink is to “solve important brain and spine problems with a seamlessly implanted device.” The health applications of NeuraLink sound promising, but according to Scientific American, the Link has a way to go before it can be tested on humans. “The neurons are like wiring, and you need an electronic thing to solve an electronic problem,” Musk said at the demonstration discussing the Link’s use. Musk believes that memory loss, hearing loss, paralysis, and more can be solved using Neuralink’s implantable device. But, as of now, the device has shown no evidence that it can solve those problems.
All in all, it is quite apparent that Musk’s fortune continues to reach new, unimaginable heights. He is undoubtedly revolutionizing the world and trying to improve the lives of many, but at the same time, most Americans have yet to reap the benefits.
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