Record numbers of people have either lost their jobs or seen them put on hold, as the killer virus has caused chaos to the world’s economy. In the UK 950,000 people have applied for universal credit in the last fortnight, whereas normally there is about 100,000 applicants for the benefit in any given two-week period. US workers have also been laid off in huge numbers and more than 6.6 million people filed jobless claims in the week ending April 4.
With GDP expected to crash in the second quarter, many analysts are predicting a severe global recession to parallel the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Yet there are some for whom the recent turmoil has been an opportunity to make eye-watering sums of money.
As reported by the Financial Times, Ruffer Investment told clients that it had made £2.4 billion during the recent stock market crash.
The investment company was founded by the multimillionaire city investor and art collector Jonathan Ruffer in 1994.
Another hedge fund made a staggering 4,144 percent return betting on a stock market collapse in the year to the end of March.
The Miami-based Universa Investments fund made a return of 3,612 percent in just March alone.
Crispin Odey said that his investment fund, Odey Asset Management, had made a return of 21 percent in March.
The Brexit supporting Mr Odey had made millions betting against the pound in the run up to the EU referendum in 2016.
Frances O’Grady, the head of the TUC, launched a scathing attack on the hedge fund managers, accusing them of raking in billions, while care workers struggle to make a living.
She said: “It’s a sign of our broken economy that hedge fund managers are raking in billions, while care workers who are putting their lives on the line can barely scrape by.
“When the immediate crisis has passed, we need to rebuild a more equal economy.
“The super-rich must be made to pay their fair share and ordinary workers should get the respect and pay they deserve.”
It comes as Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment firm was criticised for seeking to exploit the coronavirus crisis to make “super normal returns”.
Somerset Capital Management (SCM) told clients that the global stock market crash since the pandemic took hold, provided an “excellent entry point for investors”.
SCM fund manager Mark Asquith wrote in a note to clients: “Market dislocations of this magnitude happen rarely, perhaps once or twice in a generation, and have historically provided excellent entry points for investors.
“History has shown us that super normal returns can be made during this type of environment.”
Mr Rees-Mogg co-founded the investment company and still holds a 15 percent stake in the business, although he does not have any paid role within the firm.