One effect of the pandemic was to shift even more of the world’s wealth to those at the very top. At the same time, millions are slipping into dire poverty.

CNN Business reports:

The wealth of the world’s billionaires reached a new record high in the middle of the pandemic as a rebound in tech stocks boosted the fortunes of the global eliteBillionaire wealth increased to $10.2 trillion at the end of July, up from a previous peak of $8.9 trillion in 2017, according to a report from Swiss bank UBS and PwC. The total number of billionaires has increased by 31 to 2,189 since 2017.Some billionaires are getting richer much faster than others, however. The pandemic has accelerated a growing divergence in wealth between innovators in technology, healthcare and industry, and entrepreneurs in areas such as entertainment, financial services and real estate, the report said.That contrasts with most of the past decade “when steady growth and buoyant asset prices lifted billionaire wealth in all sectors,” it added.

Now, billionaires “on the wrong side” of technological and social trends are becoming relatively less wealthy. US billionaires’ fortunes have skyrocketed $845 billion since March.

This polarization between “innovator billionaires” and the rest comes at the end of a decade in which the number of billionaires has doubled and total wealth almost tripled. “In the last two years those using technology to change their business models, products and services have pulled ahead. The Covid-19 crisis just accentuated this divergence,” the report said.

During 2018, 2019 and the first seven months of 2020, technology billionaires’ total wealth increased 43% to $1.8 trillion, while healthcare billionaires enjoyed a 50% surge to $659 billion. Billionaires as a whole saw an increase of 19% over the same period, with those in financial services, entertainment, materials and real estate recording increases of 10% or less.

Geographically, mainland China has seen the biggest increase in billionaire wealth over the past 10 years, up nine times compared with a doubling in the United States. China’s shift towards the digital economy has seen the likes of Alibaba (BABA) founder Jack Ma and Pony Ma of Tencent (TCEHY) become enormously wealthy, as manufacturing and construction tycoons fall behind.

Rising inequality

The report comes amid rising concerns that the pandemic is only going to deepen economic inequalities, including in areas such as income, education and healthcare.

Ya think?