Bill Gates gives cash away but he’s mak­ing it too

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Sunday Special -

Bill Gates is still in wealth-cre­ation mode. “We’re not, you know, in some de­fen­sive pos­ture where we’re mostly in cash, or any­thing like that,” the Mi­crosoft founder said in an in­ter­view with Bloomberg Tele­vi­sion. “The strat­egy that’s been used on the in­vest­ments is to be over 60% in equities.”

That’s helped Gates add $16 bil­lion (Rs 11,000 crore) to his net worth this year, tak­ing his wealth to $106 bil­lion (Rs 76,000 crore), be­hind only Jeff Be­zos on the Bloomberg Bil­lion­aires In­dex, even as his char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions have topped $35 bil­lion (Rs 25,000 crore).

The Gates for­tune had about $60 bil­lion (Rs 42,000 crore) of eq­uity as­sets as of Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. By com­par­i­son, the av­er­age fam­ily of­fice port­fo­lio in North Amer­ica held about 32% of its as­sets in equities in 2018, ac­cord­ing to Cam­p­den Wealth’s 2018 global fam­ily of­fice re­port.

The growth over­seen by the bil­lion­aire’s in­vest­ment chief, Michael Lar­son, who over­sees fam­ily of­fice Cas­cade In­vest­ment, has en­abled Gates to build the world’s largest pri­vate foun­da­tion with­out di­min­ish­ing his for­tune.

That may start to shrink if politi­cians heed his call for higher taxes.

“I doubt, you know, the US will do a wealth tax but I wouldn’t be against it,” he said in the in­ter­view. “The clos­est thing we have to it is the es­tate tax. And I’ve been a huge pro­po­nent that that should go back to the level of 55% that it was a few decades ago.”

Inequal­ity has be­come an ex­plo­sive po­lit­i­cal is­sue with Amer­ica’s rich­est 0.1% con­trol­ling more wealth than at any time since 1929.

On Tues­day, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion re­leased its an­nual Goal­keep­ers re­port. The study seeks to mon­i­tor and aid the progress of the United Na­tions in achiev­ing in its Sust ain­able Devel­op­ment Goals, which the foun­da­tion says are be­ing hin­dered by per­sis­tent inequal­ity. The re­port called for greater in­vest­ment in health care, ed­u­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy to help re­duce inequal­ity world­wide.

“There is no sil­ver bul­let that will make ge­og­ra­phy, gen­der and other ran­dom fac­tors stop mat­ter­ing,” the re­port notes. “But guar­an­tee­ing that ev­ery sin­gle child has ac­cess to good health and ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems is a very good start in that di­rec­tion.”

Gates, 63, also backed higher in­come taxes on Amer­ica’s wealth­i­est peo­ple and made a call for greater trans­parency. “I’m for way more fi­nan­cial trans­parency. I don’t like that you can have trusts where no­body knows who owns it.”

While Gates re­mains bullish on the US and global econ­omy, he doubted that the per­for­mance he’s en­joyed over the past was likely to en­dure. “There’s rea­sons to think ab­so­lute re­turns for the next decade will be less than they have been for the last sev­eral decades.”

BILL’S BIL­LIONS: Bill Gates isn’t done mak­ing money — he has added $16 bil­lion to his net worth this year through in­vest­ments in equities

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