America’s first billionaire president was kind to America’s billionaires, whose fortunes largely rose as the stock market climbed. No billionaire made out better than Tesla cofounder and CEO Elon Musk. From the time Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017 to the end of his term on January 19, 2021, Musk’s net worth has skyrocketed by more than $170 billion, Forbes calculates.
Shares of Musk’s electric vehicle maker, Tesla, have soared by 1,625% over the last four years, far outpacing the broader stock market. (During that time, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average gained around 70% and 60%, respectively.)
Musk’s fortune has grown at an unprecedented rate. The day that Trump took office, Musk had a net worth of $12.9 billion. He is now the second-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $184 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.
The Tesla billionaire is now just $6 billion behind the current wealthiest person on the planet, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who is worth $190 billion. The two billionaires have spent much of the last few weeks competing for the title of world’s richest person. Musk first took the number one spot from Bezos on January 8, 2021, before the Amazon billionaire later reclaimed it, Forbes calculates.
Musk and Trump have had a complicated relationship since 2016. Musk initially served on two of Trump’s advisory councils, advocating for environmental sustainability. When Trump announced to the world in 2017 that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, however, Musk decided to quit. “Climate change is real,” he said at the time, adding, “leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.”
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More recently, Trump has expressed praise for Musk, in January calling him one of America’s “great geniuses.” While Trump supported the strides made by Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, his enthusiasm for electric vehicles has been more tempered (a substantial portion of the Trump campaign’s support came from big oil and gas interests).
Not that Musk’s gains were directly Trump’s doing. Over the past four years, Tesla has won over investors by introducing new vehicles, increasing deliveries and beating analyst expectations. Plus, the majority of Musk’s gains during Trump’s presidency came after President Joe Biden was elected in late 2020 and Democrats retook the Senate. With Biden supported by a Democratic Congress that is likely to support his climate change agenda, investors are hopping on the green tech bandwagon. Tesla shares have risen more than 100% over the past three months, signaling investor anticipation that Biden’s administration will be friendlier to electric vehicles.
After an initial snub, Tesla was added to the S&P 500 Index on December 21 last year, a move that further drove up its stock price. The world’s most valuable automaker, Tesla produced half a million cars in 2020—a fraction of the production of global giants like GM and Toyota.