Warren Buffett has been a fixture at the top of the world’s wealth rankings for decades, but in recent years he’s slipped down the list as tech fortunes soared and his hot hand cooled. Now, at 90, his net worth has blown past $100 billion.
The Berkshire Hathaway chairman’s wealth jumped to $100.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That makes Buffett the sixth member of the $100-billion club, a group including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and his friend Bill Gates.
The clan’s combined fortunes have grown rapidly, fueled by government stimulus, central bank policy and the surging equity market. On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden’s $1.9-trillion Covid relief bill cleared its final congressional hurdle, adding to the $3 trillion or so in stimulus Washington has already disbursed in the past year.
Berkshire, the source of virtually all of Buffett’s wealth, has had a fast start to 2021. The firm’s A shares are up 15% this year, outpacing the 3.8% gain of the S&P 500 index. That’s been helped by Buffett’s recent push to spend record amounts buying back Berkshire’s own stock, a notable shift for an investor who has preferred to use the $138-billion cash pile to buy other businesses or common shares.
Buffett’s been struggling in recent years to find sizable deals to spark Berkshire’s growth, partially due to the sheer size of the conglomerate. That’s caused the shares to underperform the S&P 500 over the past five years. But in 2020, Buffett spent a record $24.7 billion on buybacks and filings indicate he’s already bought at least $4.2-billion worth of stock through mid-February.
Surpassing $100 billion is all the more notable considering how much the billionaire has given away. A co-founder of the Giving Pledge, a campaign to encourage philanthropy, Buffett has donated more than $37 billion in Berkshire stock since 2006. Without those gifts, which have cut his holdings of Berkshire Class A shares nearly in half, he’d be worth more than $192 billion.