Oxfam has published a new report that reveals eight men that own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity.
At its annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos , Oxfam’s report, ‘An Economy for the 99 Per Cent’, shows that the gap between the rich and the poor is far greater than had been feared.
The report details how big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics. It calls for a fundamental change in the way the countries manage their economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few.
“New and better data on the distribution of global wealth – particularly in India and China – indicates that the poorest half of the world has less wealth than had been previously thought. Had this new data been available last year, it would have shown that nine billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet, and not 62, as Oxfam calculated at the time.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said it is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day. Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and poisoning our politics.
“Across the world, people are being left behind. Their wages are stagnating yet corporate bosses take home million dollar bonuses; their health and education services are cut while corporations and the super-rich dodge their taxes; their voices are ignored as governments sing to the tune of big business and a wealthy elite.”
Oxfam’s report shows how our broken economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite at the expense of the poorest in society, the majority of whom are women. The richest are accumulating wealth at such an astonishing rate that the world could see its first trillionaire in just 25 years. To put this figure in perspective – you would need to spend $1 million every day for 2,730 years to spend $1 trillion.
Oxfam is also calling on the economic elite at Davos – and specifically the world’s billionaires – to play their part in building a human economy. The World Economic Forum has responsive and responsible leadership as its key theme this year. They can make a start by committing to pay their fair share of tax and by ensuring their businesses pay a living wage.
The world’s eight richest people are, in order of net worth: Bill Gates: America founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion); Amancio Ortega: Spanish founder of Inditex which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion); Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion); Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 billion); Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 billion).
Others are: Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion); Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle (net worth $43.6 billion); Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 billion).