The coronavirus pandemic may have affected the economy in all kinds of profound ways. But one thing it hasn’t hurt at all is the valuations of the most valuable American tech companies.
As of Tuesday morning, Apple has a market capitalization of $1.7 trillion, while Amazon and Microsoft are each worth around $1.6 trillion. All are either at or near all-time highs—and not only that, but they’re each worth more than all of the public companies on South Korea’s stock exchange.
According to Bloomberg News, the entire combined market capitalization of all of the companies listed on that country’s stock exchange added up to $1.4 trillion, as of Friday, which is less than those of Apple, Amazon and Microsoft individually. Apple, per Bloomberg, passed the Korean market’s total back in January.
One of the most notable companies in South Korea, Samsung, is both a longtime competitor and supplier for Apple and other major tech companies. Its current market cap is around $269 million.
But South Korea does have Alphabet beat. The Google parent company’s valuation, as of Tuesday, is “only” $1.06 trillion.
Why the big difference? According to the Bloomberg report, while South Korea’s Kospi Index is “little changed” this year—and Samsung’s stock has dropped three%—the American tech giants have all surged since the start of 2020, with Apple jumping 31% and Amazon rising 60%, despite the economic dip in the spring once the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Amazon’s stock surge has, per CNET, allowed Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to extend his lead as the world’s richest man, adding $13 billion to his net worth in a single day on Monday and setting a record for the largest single-day surge in wealth by an individual. Bezos has now, per Fortune, more than recovered the amount of money he paid out to his former wife in their divorce two years ago.
Also, per one analyst quoted in the Bloomberg story, South Korea’s small domestic market makes it more difficult for companies there to sustain the sort of growth achieved by giant American firms.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.