Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More
Global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite. The rich keep getting richer, and by next year, just a handful of the upper-class will have accumulated more than half of the world’s wealth.
A new report released by Oxfam warns that this deepening global inequality is unlike anything seen in recent years.
Using research from Credit Suisse and Forbes’ annual billionaires list, the anti-poverty charity was able to determine that the richest 1 percent of the world’s population currently controls 48 percent of the world’s total wealth.
If trends continue, Oxfam predicts that the most-affluent will possess more wealth than the remaining 99 percent by 2016, The New York Times reported.
Drill down the numbers even more and you’ll learn that the 85 wealthiest people in the world possess $1.9 trillion, which is almost the same amount shared by some 3.5 billion people at the bottom half of the world’s income scale. Thirty-five of the lucky 85 were Americans with a combined wealth of $941 billion. Germany and Russia shared second place, with seven uber-rich individuals apiece.
Not surprisingly, the richest were titans in the finance, health care, insurance, retail, tech and extractives (oil, gas) industries, and they paid fortunes to lobbyists to maintain or increase their riches. Seventy of the world’s wealthiest were men. And 11 members of the elite 80 simply inherited their wealth.
“Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 percent own more than the rest of us combined?” Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said in a letter. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”
Last month, more than 2,500 of the world’s rich and powerful will fly to Switzerland on hundreds of private jets to attend the World Economic Forum. There they will chat about the financial markets and economic trends while eating the finest food and staying in Davos’ five-star hotels.
Oxfam will also be in Davos, urging the wealthy and powerful to tackle the rising inequality situation. The charity hopes to encourage world and business leaders to improve public services, introduce living wages, end the gender pay gap and crack down on tax-dodging corporations, Reuters reported.
In the meantime, more than 1 billion people on this planet continue to live on less than $1.25 a day.