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Photo: Ed Freeman/Getty Images

American billionaires are buying large ranches across Wyoming, Montana and Texas, creating a new class of luxury assets, writes Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The wealthy are often buying the land from "asset-rich, cash poor" small farmers whose families have owned the land for decades. The purchases put money in the farmers' pockets as many struggle with tough times, but are shifting the structure of land ownership in the American West.

The big picture: Compared to other luxury assets, land can be enjoyed without losing its value.

  • 100 families own about 42 million acres across the country. The amount of land owned by these families has jumped 50% since 2007, reports the New York Times.

The buyers: Amazon's Jeff Bezos owns 420,000 acres in Texas. He uses it for his space exploration ventures, per Bloomberg. He spent his childhood summers at his grandparents' Texas ranch.

  • Businessman John Malone owns the most land in the U.S. with 2.20 million acres —  most of it is ranch land.
  • Media giant Ted Turner owns 2 million acres spread across Montana, Nebraska and other states.

Yes, but: Some locals view the wealthy buyers as a "threat to a way of life beloved for its easy access to the outdoors," per the Times. However, some rich land owners have made a point to invest in conservation efforts in their communities.

Go deeper: The upward march of the billionaires

Go deeper

24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.