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World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega (Spanish fashion chain Zara), Warren Buffett,  Carlos Slim Helú, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison and Michael Bloomberg

The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.

In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

Oxfam blamed rising inequality on aggressive wage restraint, tax dodging and the squeezing of producers by companies, adding that businesses were too focused on delivering ever-higher returns to wealthy owners and top executives.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) said last week that rising inequality and social polarisation posed two of the biggest risks to the global economy in 2017 and could result in the rolling back of globalisation.

Oxfam said the world’s poorest 50% owned the same in assets as the $426bn owned by a group headed by Gates, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, and Warren Buffett, the renowned investor and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

The others are Carlos Slim Helú: the Mexican telecoms tycoon and owner of conglomerate Grupo Carso; Jeff Bezos: the founder of Amazon; Mark Zuckerberg: the founder of Facebook; Larry Ellison, chief executive of US tech firm Oracle; and Michael Bloomberg; a former mayor of New York and founder and owner of the Bloomberg news and financial information service.

Last year, Oxfam said the world’s 62 richest billionaires were as wealthy as half the world’s population.

However, the number has dropped to eight in 2017 because new information shows that poverty in China and India is worse than previously thought, making the bottom 50% even worse off and widening the gap between rich and poor.

With members of the forum due to arrive on Monday in Switzerland, where guests will range from the Chinese president Xi Jinping, to pop star Shakira, the WEF released its own inclusive growth and development report in which it said median income had fallen by an average of 2.4% between 2008 and 2013 across 26 advanced nations.

Norway, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark filled the top five places in the WEF’s inclusive development index, with Britain 21st and the US 23rd.

The body that organises the Davos event said rising inequality was not an “iron law of capitalism”, but a matter of making the right policy choices.

The WEF report found that 51% of the 103 countries for which data was available saw their inclusive development index scores decline over the past five years, “attesting to the legitimacy of public concern and the challenge facing policymakers regarding the difficulty of translating economic growth into broad social progress”.

Basing its research on the Forbes rich list and data provided by investment bank Credit Suisse, Oxfam said

the vast majority of people in the bottom half of the world’s population were facing a daily struggle to survive, with 70% of them living in low-income countries.

It was four years since the WEF had first identified inequality as a threat to social stability, but that the gap between rich and poor has continued to widen, Oxfam added.

“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” the report said.

The charity said new information had shown that poor people in China and India owned even fewer assets than previously thought, making the wealth gap more pronounced than it thought a year ago, when it announced that 62 billionaires owned the same wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said: “This year’s snapshot of inequality is clearer, more accurate and more shocking than ever before. It is beyond grotesque that a group of men who could easily fit in a single golf buggy own more than the poorest half of humanity.

“While one in nine people on the planet will go to bed hungry tonight, a small handful of billionaires have so much wealth they would need several lifetimes to spend it. The fact that a super-rich elite are able to prosper at the expense of the rest of us at home and overseas shows how warped our economy has become.”

Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, said:

“Once again Oxfam have come out with a report that demonises capitalism, conveniently skimming over the fact that free markets have helped over 100 million people rise out of poverty in the last year alone.”

The Oxfam report added that since 2015 the richest 1% has owned more wealth than the rest of the planet.

It said that over the next 20 years, 500 people will hand over $2.1tn to their heirs – a sum larger than the annual GDP of India, a country with 1.3 billion people.

Between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest 10% increased by just $65, while the incomes of the richest 1% grew by $11,800 – 182 times as much.

Oxfam called for fundamental change to ensure that economies worked for everyone, not just “a privileged few”.

Note: Wealthiest 62 persons own half the global wealth or $3.6 trillion
1% of the richest own 99%o of global wealth or $7.6 trillion.

Question 1: what the wealth of the 62 person represents to the 1% richest?
Question 2: How many of the 62 families represent of the number of multinational companies?

1% of population control 50% of global wealth?

Global inequality is growing, with half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population, according to a new report.

The middle classes have been squeezed at the expense of the very rich, according to research by Credit Suisse, which also finds for the first time that there are more individuals in the middle classes in China – 109m – than the 92m in the US.

“Middle class wealth has grown at a slower pace than wealth at the top end,” said Tidjane Thiam, the chief executive of Credit Suisse. “This has reversed the pre-crisis trend which saw the share of middle-class wealth remaining fairly stable over time.”

The report shows that a person needs only $3,210 (£2,100) to be in the wealthiest 50% of world citizens. Some $68,800 secures a place in the top 10%, while the top 1% have more than $759,900.

The report defines wealth as the value of assets including property and stock market investments but excludes debt.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

The 2008 financial crisis helped a few: “Wealth inequality has continued to increase since 2008, with the top percentile of wealth holders now owning 50.4% of all household wealth.”

Inequality growing in UK and around the world, household wealth study finds, while Britain has third-largest number of ‘ultra-high net worth individuals’

About 3.4 bn people – just over 70% of the global adult population – have wealth of less than $10,000. A further 1bn – a fifth of the world population – are in the $10,000-$100,000 range.

Each of the remaining 383m adults – 8% of the population – has wealth of more than $100,000.

This number includes some 34m US dollar millionaires.

About 123,800 individuals of these have more than $50m, and nearly 45,000 have more than $100m.

The UK has the third-highest number of these “ultra-high net worth” individuals.

Pyramid of wealth
Photograph: Credit Suisse

The report said: “Wealth inequality has continued to increase since 2008, with the top percentile of wealth holders now owning 50.4% of all household wealth.”

At the start of 2015, Oxfam had warned that 1% of the world’s population would own more wealth than the other 99% by next year. Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s chief executive, said:

“The fact it has happened a year early – just weeks after world leaders agreed a global goal to reduce inequality – shows just how urgently world leaders need to tackle this problem.

“This is the latest evidence that extreme inequality is out of control. Are we really happy to live in a world where the top 1% own half the wealth and the poorest half own just 1%?”

The Credit Suisse report concludes that global wealth has fallen by $12.4tn so far in 2015 – to $250tn – the first drop since the 2008 banking crisis.

This is largely a result of the strength of the dollar, the currency used for Credit Suisse’s calculations.

The estimates are for the end of June 2015, when Chinese stock prices had fallen 20% from the peak after soaring by more than 150% between June 2014 and mid June 2015.

The report was published at the end of September, by which time the Chinese stock market had fallen a further 25%.

A year ago, the the UK had been singled out as the only country in the G7 where inequality had risen this century. In this year’s report, the authors say:

“[In the UK] wealth inequality has risen since 2000, as the gap in wealth per adult between the lower segment and rest of the population has increased.”

The UK is fourth in the world for median wealth – which strips out the impact of those at the highest and lowest end of the wealth league – at $126,500 (£83,000) per person, down 13% on a year earlier.

The Credit Suisse survey calculates that there are now 2.4 million dollar millionaires in the UK , up 68,000 on a year earlier. In the US the number of millionaires is now more than 15m – up 903,000.

The UK was one of only three countries, along with the US and China, to record a rise in household wealth in 2014. It also leapfrogged Germany in the number of people with more than $50m, with 400 more than 2014 and a total of 5,400.

This put the UK in third place, behind the US with 61,300 of the world’s wealthiest and China with 9,600.

Ultra-high net worth individuals
Photograph: Credit Suisse

This year’s report focuses on the middle classes, as defined by personal wealth rather than profession. It says 14% of adults worldwide are middle class, with $50,000-$500,000 of assets.

But Markus Stierli, of the Credit Suisse Research Institute, said:

“From 2008 onwards, wealth growth has not allowed middle-class numbers to keep pace with population growth in the developing world. Furthermore, the distribution of wealth gains has shifted in favour of those at higher wealth levels. These two factors have combined to produce a decline in the share of middle-class wealth.”


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October 2020
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