The pledge, launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, is a campaign that encourages billionaires from across industries to commit to giving away at least half of their fortunes to charity during their lifetimes.
Notably, it’s a nonbinding commitment: Its founders describe it as a “moral commitment,” and critics argue that its loose rules lack enforcement. So far, it’s been signed by 236 billionaires, including Gates and Buffett, as well as Elon Musk and Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott.
But Bezos, whose recent announcement followed years of criticism over his relative lack of philanthropic giving, isn’t the only billionaire who hasn’t signed the pledge. It lacks the signatures of seven of the world’s 11 wealthiest people, based on Bloomberg’s billionaire rankings as of this week.
None of the seven responded to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.
Here’s who they are and what their philanthropic efforts have looked like to this point.
Bernard Arnault: $157 billion net worth
Bernard Arnault is the co-founder and CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH and the world’s second-wealthiest person, according to Bloomberg.
In the past, the French billionaire’s net worth has approached $200 billion. He has topped Bloomberg’s list of the world’s wealthiest people multiple times, most recently in 2021.
Arnault has not signed the Giving Pledge, nor has he commented on the pledge publicly. There is no public record showing the extent of what Arnault has donated to charity.
However, LVMH has posted a statement online highlighting the company’s philanthropic mission and noting the Arnault family’s high-profile $226 million donation in 2019 to help fund repairs of Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral, after a devastating fire severely damaged the landmark that year.
Gautam Adani: $130 billion net worth
Gautam Adani is the chairman and founder of the Adani Group, one of India’s largest industrial conglomerates. He is India’s wealthiest person and the third-richest in the world, according to Bloomberg.
His net worth has nearly doubled since this time last year, as his company has made a series of acquisitions to expand into industries such as coal and transportation.
He’s also ramped up his philanthropic efforts over the past year: In June, he pledged a $7.7 billion donation to his Adani Foundation, a philanthropic arm of his company that supports social causes in India such as education and health-care programs.
Jeff Bezos: $116 billion net worth
Bezos has donated more than $2.4 billion in his lifetime, according to a Forbes estimate. He has also committed to distributing a total of $10 billion through his own climate nonprofit, the Bezos Earth Fund.
But the billionaire has skirted questions about the Giving Pledge for years, especially after his ex-wife, Scott, signed it shortly after their 2019 divorce.
Scott has gone on to become one of America’s most celebrated philanthropists. Bezos’ critics are still waiting for him to offer more concrete details on how he intends to distribute his massive fortune to charitable causes.
Without those details, it’s hard to parse how his announcement last week differs from signing the Giving Pledge, and why he made such a similar commitment without joining many of his fellow tech billionaires.
Larry Page: $88.7 billion net worth
In 2014, Google co-founder Larry Page said he didn’t plan to leave all of his wealth to his two children. He didn’t commit to leaving his net worth to charity, either.
Instead, the billionaire said in a TED interview that he would rather hand over the bulk of his fortune to entrepreneurs with big ideas to change the world for the better. At the time, Page named Elon Musk as one example: “He wants to go to Mars. That’s a worthy goal.”
In 2019, Vox reported that Page had donated over $2 billion to his own philanthropic foundation since 2004. The vast majority of those contributions ended up in donor-advised funds, which critics argue can be used as vehicles for tax breaks.
Mukesh Ambani: $88.2 billion net worth
Mukesh Ambani, the ninth-richest person in the world, is the chairman of Reliance Industries, an energy and telecommunications conglomerate and India’s most valuable company.
In 2010, Ambani founded the Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of his company and one of India’s largest nonprofits. The foundation focuses on initiatives that provide health care and educational scholarships, as well as agricultural infrastructure in rural farming communities, according to its website.
Steve Ballmer: $86.3 billion net worth
Steve Ballmer’s absence from the Giving Pledge could come as a surprise: He was one of Microsoft’s earliest employees, and rose to the role of president and Gates’ right-hand man before succeeding his friend as CEO in 2000. Most of Ballmer’s fortune comes from his 4% stake in Microsoft.
But Ballmer has said that he and Gates have “drifted apart” since he retired from the company in 2014, which could explain why he hasn’t signed the pledge that Gates co-founded.
Today, Ballmer serves as chairman of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, which he bought in 2014. He’s also fairly active on the philanthropy front: He and his wife, Connie, run the Ballmer Group nonprofit, which has awarded over $420 million in charitable grants over the past year, according to the group’s website.
Sergey Brin: $84.9 billion net worth
Like fellow Google co-founder Page, Sergey Brin has not signed the Giving Pledge. The 11th-wealthiest person in the world, Brin hasn’t spoken publicly about the pledge or how much he plans to give away during his lifetime.
In the past, Brin has donated money to causes including STEM-focused educational nonprofit Girls Who Code and a reported $63 million gift earlier this year to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds research into a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
In 2009, Brin also donated $1 million to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, an organization that helped him and his family escape the Soviet Union and migrate to the U.S. when he was a child.
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IMF hikes global growth forecast as inflation cools
The IMF has revised its global economic outlook upwards.
Norberto Duarte | Afp | Getty Images
The International Monetary Fund on Monday revised upward its global growth projections for the year, but warned that higher interest rates and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would likely still weigh on activity.
In its latest economic update, the institution said the global economy will grow 2.9% this year — which represents a 0.2 percentage point improvement from its previous forecast in October. However, it said that number would still mean a fall from an expansion of 3.4% in 2022.
It also revised its projection for 2024 down to 3.1%.
“Growth will remain weak by historical standards, as the fight against inflation and Russia’s war in Ukraine weigh on activity,” Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, director of the research department at the IMF, said in a blog post.
The Fund turned more positive on the global economy due to better-than-expected domestic factors in several countries, such as the United States.
“Economic growth proved surprisingly resilient in the third quarter of last year, with strong labor markets, robust household consumption and business investment, and better-than-expected adaptation to the energy crisis in Europe,” Gourinchas said, also noting that inflationary pressures have come down.
In addition, China announced the reopening of its economy after strict Covid-19 lockdowns, which is expected to contribute to higher global growth. A weaker U.S. dollar has also brightened the prospects for emerging countries that hold debt in foreign currency.
However, the picture isn’t totally positive. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva warned earlier this month that the economy was not as bad as some feared, “but less bad doesn’t quite yet mean good.”
“We have to be cautious,” she said during a CNBC-moderated panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The IMF on Monday warned of several factors that could deteriorate the outlook in the coming months. These included the fact that China’s Covid reopening could stall; inflation could remain high; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could shake energy and food costs even further; and markets could turn sour on worse-than-expected inflation prints.
IMF calculations say that about 84% of nations will face lower headline inflation this year compared to 2022, but they still forecast an annual average rate of 6.6% in 2023 and of 4.3% in 2024.
As such, the Washington, D.C.-based institution said one of the main policy priorities is that central banks keep addressing the surge in consumer prices.
“Clear central bank communication and appropriate reactions to shifts in the data will help keep inflation expectations anchored and lessen wage and price pressures,” the IMF said in its latest report.
“Central banks’ balance sheets will need to be unwound carefully, amid market liquidity risks,” it added.
Most Adani shares continue losses; founder loses $28 billion in month
Gautam Adani, chairperson of Indian conglomerate Adani Group, at the World Congress of Accountants in Mumbai on Nov. 19, 2022. Founder Gautam Adani, the richest man in Asia and once second only to Elon Musk, fell out of the world’s top five richest to rank seventh on the Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.
Indranil Mukherjee | Afp | Getty Images
Shares of most of Adani Group companies continued to see sharp losses for a third consecutive trading session as the company attempted to rebut short seller firm Hindenburg’s report, which accused the conglomerate of stock manipulation and an “accounting fraud scheme.”
Adani Enterprises erased earlier gains of up to 10% and last traded flat in Mumbai’s afternoon trade after the group published a lengthy response of over 400 pages to Hindenburg’s report over the weekend, saying that it will exercise its rights to “pursue remedies” to protect its investors “before all appropriate authorities.”
Adani Enterprises’ stock price remains more than 25% lower in the month to date, Refinitiv data showed. It proceeded with a secondary share sale worth $2.5 billion, which were overshadowed by a rout that wiped out a total of $48 billion as of last week’s close.
His net worth fell $27.9 billion year to date, the index showed. It peaked at $150 billion on Sept. 20, 2022, before falling to to $92.7 billion as of last week’s close, according to the index.
Despite small gains seen in Adani Enterprises, other affiliates of the Adani Group continued to plunge.
Adani Group said Hindenburg’s allegations were a “calculated attack on India, independence, integrity and quality of Indian institutions, and growth story and ambition of India,” in the response it released over the weekend.
The group’s chief financial officer Jugeshinder Singh said in an interview with CNBC-TV18, an affiliate of CNBC, that the value of Adani Enterprises has not changed “simply because” of share price volatility, adding it instead lies in its “ability to incubate new businesses.”
He added that he is confident Adani Enterprises‘ follow-on public offering will be fully subscribed, calling Hindenburg’s report “simply a lie” and the timing of the report “malicious.”
Hindenburg on Monday morning described the group’s response “bloated” and claimed it “ignores every key allegation” against the conglomerate that it raised.
“Fraud cannot be obfuscated by nationalism of a bloated response that ignores every key allegation we raised,” the short seller titled its response to Adani Group.
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