• Centuries of discrimination have created a cavernous wealth gap between Black and white Americans. 
  • Today, Black Americans own an estimated one-tenth the wealth of white Americans — $17,150 for Black families compared to $171,000 for white families.
  • This gap is not only bad for Black people, it’s bad for the US economy, too.
  • Researchers estimate that the racial wealth gap has cost the US economy $16 trillion since 2000. If the gap closed today, the GDP would see a $5 trillion boost in the next five years.
  • Read more stories from Business Insider’s “Inside the racial wealth gap” series »

Since the start of slavery, racism has cost Black Americans an estimated $70 trillion. Today, thanks to centuries of discrimination, the racial wealth gap between Black and white Americans is cavernous.

In 2016, the Brookings Institution estimated that Black Americans own about one-tenth the wealth of white Americans — $17,150 for Black families compared to $171,000 for white families. The gap persists at every income level: Among the top 10% of earners, the median net worth of white families is $1,789,300, whereas a Black family earning the same income has a median net worth of $343,160.

It goes without saying that this is bad for Black families and individuals. But this type of racial inequality is bad for the broader US economy, too.

What the racial wealth gap costs the US economy

In a Zoom panel discussion hosted by Business Insider last month, experts from a variety of fields — higher education, business, and financial planning — discussed the costs of the racial wealth gap and how to close it.

Dania Francis, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston and co-author of “The Economics of Reparations,” illuminated the cost of racial inequality to the US economy.

By Lawrence White, Sinead Cruise and Simon Jessop



logo: FILE PHOTO: HSBC logo is seen on a branch bank in the financial district in New York, U.S.


© Reuters/BRENDAN MCDERMID
FILE PHOTO: HSBC logo is seen on a branch bank in the financial district in New York, U.S.


LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC will target net zero carbon emissions across its entire customer base by 2050 at the latest, and provide between $750 billion and $1 trillion in financing to help clients make the transition, its Chief Executive Noel Quinn told Reuters.

In the strongest statement by Europe’s biggest bank on climate change to date, its CEO outlined HSBC’s ambitions to align its activities with the Paris Agreement.

“COVID has been a wake-up call to us all, including me personally, we have seen how fragile the global economy is to a major event, in this case a health event, and it brings home the reality of what a major climate event could do,” Quinn told Reuters in a video interview.

HSBC aims to achieve net zero in its own operations by 2030, he added.

While other UK banks such as NatWest have already set similar net-zero goals, HSBC’s aim to achieve it across its huge Asia-focused client base is one of the most significant pledges made by a global lender to date.

However, the bank will be closely watched for how quickly and fully it pursues its new goals, which are mainly stated as ‘aims’ rather than hard commitments.

It will also face scrutiny on whether it has allowed itself leeway to continue financing some fossil fuel-linked clients, especially in developing markets.

HSBC has come under increasing pressure from activists, shareholders and politicians who say it is contributing to climate change by financing fossil fuel and other environmentally harmful projects.

Quinn said the bank is focused on expanding its capital markets-focused carbon transition policies, to a broader one encompassing all

(Bloomberg) — Norway’s government is set to take out a record amount of cash from its sovereign wealth fund this year, and to continue pumping historic amounts of stimulus into the economy in 2021, to fight the “severe setback” triggered by the Covid crisis.



a group of people walking down a busy city street: The Gronland neighborhood in Oslo, Norway.


© Bloomberg
The Gronland neighborhood in Oslo, Norway.

Withdrawals from the fund will surge to an all-time high of 346.5 billion kroner ($37 billion) in 2020, followed by 273 billion kroner next year, Norway’s finance ministry said on Wednesday.

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That’s more than the wealth fund generates in cash flow, which was 131 billion kroner in the first half of the year. For all of 2019, when the fund booked record returns, its cash flow reached 249 billion kroner. Assuming an unchanged cash flow in 2020, the fund will need to liquidate about $10.5 billion worth of assets to meet government withdrawals.

The investor has already started selling off bonds to keep up with withdrawals, it said in August. “If something has to be sold, the fund’s relative positions have to remain constant,” its spokesperson Thomas Sevang said in an emailed comment on Wednesday. “We sell the broad reference portfolio, and we usually take it from the most liquid portfolios.”

Stimulus in Action

Norway faces a milder recession than most of the rest of Europe. That’s in large part thanks to its $1.1 trillion wealth fund, which gives the government room to add record stimulus without tapping bond markets. The finance ministry estimates that GDP will shrink 3.1% in 2020, compared with an expected slump of about 8% in the euro zone.

Finance Minister Jan Tore Sanner has promised to do “everything in our power to ensure that Norway emerges from this crisis in the best possible position.” That’s as the coronavirus pandemic inflicts “the

The wealth of the world’s billionaires has surged by more than $2 trillion since the coronavirus pandemic began to reach an all-time high of $10.2 trillion.

The super-rich have been the big beneficiaries of the stock market rally from its March lows. Their total net worth rose by 27.5% between April and July to smash the previous record of $8.9 trillion set at the end of 2017. The number of billionaires has also grown from 2,158 in 2017 to 2,189. 

These are the findings of the 2020 UBS/PwC Billionaire Insights report. The annual study calculated that billionaires’ fortunes had fallen by 6.6%, or $564 billion, to $8 trillion through 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, in the run-up to the coronavirus crisis.

The scale of the bounce-back has surprised even the most seasoned wealth watchers.

“Billionaires did extremely well during and after the crisis,” said Josef Stadler, head of UBS Global Wealth Management’s family office division.

Some did far better than others though, depending on which sectors their businesses operate in. The pandemic has rapidly accelerated technology adoption as millions work from home and companies increasingly move their operations onto the cloud. At the same time, vast resources have been poured into the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine.

“What we’ve seen is a dramatic polarisation of fortunes. Billionaire innovators and disruptors in tech, healthcare, and industrials are fast and massively pulling ahead of the rest of the universe,” Stadler said. 

This trend had been in evidence through 2018 and 2019, he added, but “Covid-19 has accelerated this divergence”. The numbers underline the pace of change and those classed as

By contrast, about a fifth, $884 billion, went to help workers and families. And even less aimed at the health crisis itself, with 16 percent of the total going toward testing and tracing, vaccine development, and helping states provide care, among other health-related needs.

The division of the funds, laid out in a deeply reported Washington Post investigation into the federal pandemic response, shines a light on the origin of the K-shaped economic recovery. 

It continues to cushion the blow for the well-off while leaving millions of low and middle-income Americans struggling.

“The legislation bestowed billions in benefits on companies and wealthy individuals largely unscathed by the pandemic,” Peter Whoriskey, Douglas MacMillan and Jonathan O’Connell report, “while at the same time allowing special aid for unemployed workers to expire over the summer and leaving some local public health efforts struggling for money to conduct testing and other prevention efforts.”

They point to $651 billion in business tax breaks that “often went to companies unaffected by the pandemic and others that laid off thousands of workers.” That’s in part because the breaks weren’t targeted to sectors that suffered the most acutely during the pandemic shutdowns. And the legislation offered breaks for operating losses dating all the way back to 2018, making companies eligible for relief for setbacks from well before the pandemic struck.

The Cheesecake Factory, for one, said it will claim a tax break for $50 million despite furloughing 41,000 workers. And United Natural Foods, an organic grocer that saw its revenue surge by $1 billion this year, applied for a $28 million refund, the Post team found.

Another source of aid for larger companies came in the form of $454 billion that went to support lending by the Federal Reserve. 

That pot of money helped “stabilize markets, and those