How Much Money Did Warren Buffet Lose During The Pandemic?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March of 2020, a major concern on many people's minds has been the state of the economy. Due to government shutdown orders, large sectors saw a huge reduction if not a complete cessation of business, with non-essential offerings, like restaurants and bars, being closed (via The New York Times). Even established, famous businesses like Disney World and the Mall of America were impacted by shutdowns (via USA Today).

So perhaps it's no wonder that the economy saw a major shock. The U.S. unemployment rate skyrocketed from only 3.5% in February of 2020 to 14.7% in April of 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Stock and investments were also affected: The S&P 500, for example, fell from a high of 3,393 on February 19, 2020, to a high of only 2,300 on March 23rd, 2020 (via Yahoo!Finance). And, the U.S.'s GDP fell more than 31% in the first quarter of 2020, according to CNBC.

What does this all add up to? A major economic shock — big enough to affect even people and businesses who have traditionally been able to weather the impacts of severe economic swings. Case in point: Warren Buffet.

Who is Warren Buffet?

Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is known for his finesse with investing (via Forbes). One of the richest men in the world, Buffet is considered a self-made billionaire because he made his money on his own merits: In this case, by buying and investing in Berkshire Hathaway, an investment firm that is now considered a consistent moneymaker for stakeholders (via Britannica). As of July 2022, Berkshire Hathaway was worth more than 600 billion USD, according to Macro Trends, while during that same period, Buffet himself was pegged at a net worth of around $96 billion, down from a personal peak of $130 billion in March of 2022 (via Bloomberg).

But, Buffet isn't all about the money. In fact, he's also known for his philanthropy. Buffet co-founded the Giving Pledge with Bill Gates, which asks the uber-wealthy to donate much of their money to charity (via Britannica). And, Buffet himself promised to give up to 99% of his fortune — a sum that could amount to over $100 billion. But, how much Buffet ends up donating depends on his total net worth, which in turn depends on a variety of factors including the state of the economy.

How the pandemic impacted Warren Buffet's finances

It's hard to get an exact figure for an individual's finances, but Bloomberg estimates that Warren Buffett's net worth dropped considerably at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Buffett was worth upwards of $90 billion in mid-February of 2020, that fell to around $68 billion towards the end of March 2020, a loss of around $22.3 billion in just a few weeks.

Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, was also significantly affected by the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, the investing firm lost almost $50 billion due to the market downturn (via CNBC).

However, because these drops in value were due in large part to plunges in stock value, both the company and the investor were able to bounce back relatively quickly as the stock market recovered. By early 2021, Berkshire Hathaway had a net profit of $11.7 billion (via CNN), and by March 2022, Buffet had reached a personal net worth of $130 billion.

In interviews, Buffett has noted that small businesses were far more likely to be negatively affected by COVID-19 than large conglomerates (via CNBC). In mid-2021, he said, "Many hundreds of thousands or millions of small businesses have been hurt in a terrible way, but most of the big companies have overwhelmingly done fine." He added, "It's been very unpredictable, but it's worked out better than people anticipated for most people and most businesses," according to CNBC.