Abundant liquidity, soaring stock markets and accommodating tax policies have been favorable for growing dynastic wealth. The world’s 25 richest families are worth US$1.7 trillion, a 22 per cent increase from a year ago. 

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Among the highlights:

  • The Waltons of Arkansas, who own nearly half of retailer Walmart Inc., top the list for the fourth year running with a net worth of US$238.2 billion. Their fortune grew by US$23 billion in the past 12 months, despite the family selling US$6 billion worth of stock since February.
  • New names on the ranking include the Dassaults of France, a third-generation technology and aviation empire, and the New York-based Lauders of cosmetics-maker Estee Lauder.
  • One notable dropoff is the Lees, the family owners of South Korea’s Samsung. They fell from the list after paying an US$11 billion inheritance tax following last year’s death of patriarch Lee Kun-hee.
  • While all but one of the families in the ranking added to their wealth, the gains of the luxury dynasties were especially pronounced. The fortune of the family stewards of Hermes surged 75 per cent to US$111.6 billion.
  • Surging dynastic fortunes underscore a widening wealth gap that’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. In the U.S., President Biden and congressional Democrats have proposed a raft of tax changes aimed at the rich.