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Posts Tagged ‘World Economic Forum

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?

Davos Forum, Richest people…: “How to make our clan richer?”

The world’s wealthiest people aren’t known for travelling by bus, but if they fancied a change of scene then the richest 85 people on the globe – who between them control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population put together – could squeeze onto a single double-decker.

The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called ‘global elite’ is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday.

The report warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn (1,ooo billion) as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world’s population.

 published in theguardian.com, this January 20, 2014

Oxfam: 85 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world

As World Economic Forum starts in Davos, development charity claims growing inequality has been driven by ‘power grab’
The InterContinental Davos luxury hotel in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos

The InterContinental Davos luxury hotel in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.
Oxfam report found people in countries around the world believe that the rich have too much influence over the direction their country is heading. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/REUTERS

Working for the Few - Oxfam report

Source: F. Alvaredo, A. B. Atkinson, T. Piketty and E. Saez, (2013) ‘The World Top Incomes Database’, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/

Only includes countries with data in 1980 and later than 2008. Photograph: Oxfam

The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.

It’s a chilling reminder of the depths of wealth inequality as political leaders and top business people head to the snowy peaks of Davos for this week’s World Economic Forum.

Few, if any, will be arriving on anything as common as a bus, with private jets and helicopters pressed into service as many of the world’s most powerful people convene to discuss the state of the global economy over 4 hectic days of meetings, seminars and parties in the exclusive ski resort.

Winnie Byanyima, the Oxfam executive director who will attend the Davos meetings, said: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century, half of the world’s population – that’s three and a half billion people – own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus.”

Oxfam also argues that this is no accident either, saying growing inequality has been driven by a “power grab” by wealthy elites, who have co-opted the political process to rig the rules of the economic system in their favour.

In the report, entitled Working For The Few (summary here), Oxfam warned that the fight against poverty cannot be won until wealth inequality has been tackled.

“Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table,” Byanyima said.

Oxfam called on attendees at this week’s World Economic Forum to take a personal pledge to tackle the problem by refraining from dodging taxes or using their wealth to seek political favours.

As well as being morally dubious, economic inequality can also exacerbate other social problems such as gender inequality, Oxfam warned.

Davos itself is also struggling in this area, with the number of female delegates actually dropping from 17% in 2013 to 15% this year.

How richest use their wealth to capture opportunities

Polling for Oxfam’s report found people in countries around the world – including two-thirds of those questioned in Britain – believe that the rich have too much influence over the direction their country is heading.

Byanyima explained:

“In developed and developing countries alike we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest.”

Working for the Few - Oxfam report

Source: F. Alvaredo, A. B. Atkinson, T. Piketty and E. Saez, (2013) ‘The World Top Incomes Database’, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ Only includes countries with data in 1980 and later than 2008. Photograph: Oxfam

The Oxfam report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favour on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority.

Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report.

This “capture of opportunities” by the rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes has led to a situation where 70% of the world’s population live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s and 1% of families own 46% of global wealth – almost £70tn.

Opinion polls in Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the US, UK and Netherlands found that a majority in each country believe that wealthy people exert too much influence.

Concern was strongest in Spain, followed by Brazil and India and least marked in the Netherlands.

In the UK, some 67% agreed that “the rich have too much influence over where this country is headed” – 37% saying that they agreed “strongly” with the statement – against just 10% who disagreed, 2% of them strongly.

The WEF’s own Global Risks report recently identified widening income disparities as one of the biggest threats to the world community.

Oxfam is calling on those gathered at WEF to pledge:

1. to support progressive taxation and not dodge their own taxes;

2. refrain from using their wealth to seek political favours that undermine the democratic will of their fellow citizens;

3. make public all investments in companies and trusts for which they are the ultimate beneficial owners;

4. challenge governments to use tax revenue to provide universal healthcare, education and social protection;

5. demand a living wage in all companies they own or control; and

6. challenge other members of the economic elite to join them in these pledges.

(Pledge my ass call)

• Research Now questioned 1,166 adults in the UK for Oxfam between October 1 and 14 2013.

Will Africa ever be freed from colonial onslaught on its lands and raw materials?

One of the stated purposes of the G8 conference, hosted by David Cameron (British PM) next week, is to save the people of Africa from starvation.

To discharge this grave responsibility, the global powers have discovered, to their undoubted distress, that their corporations must extend their control and ownership of large parts of Africa. As a result, they will find themselves in astonished possession of Africa’s land, seed and markets.

Nothing ever changes when it comes to colonial greed.

One of the stated purposes of the Conference of Berlin in 1884 was to save Africans from the slave trade.

To discharge this grave responsibility, Europe’s powers discovered, to their undoubted distress, that they would have to extend their control and ownership of large parts of Africa.

In doing so, they accidentally encountered the vast riches of that continent, which had not in any way figured in their calculations.

The colonial powers of France, England, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Spain… found themselves in astonished possession of land, gold, diamonds and ivory. They also discovered that they were able to enlist the labor of a large number of Africans, who, for humanitarian reasons, were best treated as slaves. (Hands shopped for failing to bring in the proper quota of rubber…)

I had posted many articles on this topic https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/food-baskets-for-year-2050/ and now this one by  .

 published in The Guardian this June 10, 2013:

David Cameron’s purpose at the G8, as he put it last month, is to advance “the good of people around the world”.

Or, as Rudyard Kipling expressed it during the previous scramble for Africa: To seek another’s profit, / And work another’s gain … / Fill full the mouth of Famine / And bid the sickness cease”.

Who could doubt that the best means of doing this is to cajole African countries into a new set of agreements that allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent their seeds and monopolize their food markets?

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which bears only a passing relationship to the agreements arising from the Conference of Berlin, will, according to the US agency promoting it, “lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth“.

This “inclusive and sustained agricultural growth” will no longer be in the hands of the people who are meant to be lifted out of poverty.

How you can have one without the other is a mystery that has yet to be decoded. But I’m sure the alliance’s corporate partners – Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, Syngenta, Nestlé, Unilever, Itochu, Yara International and others – could produce some interesting explanations.

The alliance offers African countries public and private money (the UK has pledged £395m of foreign aid) if they strike agreements with G8 countries and the private sector (in many cases multinational companies). Six countries have signed up so far.

African farming needs investment and support. Does it need land grabbing?

Yes, according to the deals these countries have signed.

Mozambique, where local farmers have already been evicted from large tracts of land, is now obliged to write new laws promoting what its agreement calls “partnerships” of this kind.

Ivory Coast must “facilitate access to land for smallholder farmers and private enterprises” – in practice evicting smallholder farmers for the benefit of private enterprises.

Already French, Algerian, Swiss and Singaporean companies have lined up deals across 600,000 hectares or more of  Ivory Coast prime arable land. These deals, according to the development group Grainwill displace tens of thousands of peasant rice farmers and destroy the livelihoods of thousands of small traders”.

Ethiopia, where land grabbing has been accompanied by appalling human rights abuses, must assist “agriculture investors (domestic and foreign; small, medium and larger enterprises) to … secure access to land”. (Think of this Indian multinational planting rice and roses on lands rented for a single dollar a hectare…)

And how about seed grabbing?

Is that essential to the wellbeing of Africa’s people?

Mozambique is now obliged to “systematically cease distribution of free and unimproved seeds“, while drawing up new laws granting intellectual property rights in seeds that will “promote private sector investment”. Similar regulations must also be approved in Ghana, Tanzania and Ivory Coast.

The countries that have joined the New Alliance will have to remove any market barriers that favor their own farmers. Where farmers comprise between 50% and 90% of the population, and where their livelihoods are dependent on the non-cash economy, these policies – which make perfect sense in the air-conditioned lecture rooms of the Chicago Business School – can be lethal.

Strangely missing from New Alliance agreements is any commitment on the part of G8 nations to change their own domestic policies. These could have included

1. farm subsidies in Europe and the US, which undermine the markets for African produce; or

2.  biofuel quotas, which promote world hunger by turning food into fuel.

Any constraints on the behavior of corporate investors in Africa (such as the Committee on World Food Security’s guidelines on land tenure) remain voluntary, while the constraints on host nations become compulsory.

As in 1884, powerful nations make the rules and weak ones abide by them: for their own good, of course.

The west, as usual, is able to find leaders in Africa who have more in common with the global elite than with their own people.

In some of the countries that have joined the New Alliance, there were wide-ranging consultations on land and farming, whose results have been now ignored in the agreements with the G8. The deals between African governments and private companies were facilitated by the World Economic Forum, and took place behind closed doors.

But that’s what you have to do when you’re dealing with “new-caught, sullen peoples, / Half devil and half child“, who perversely try to hang on to their own land, their own seeds and their own markets.

Even though David Cameron, Barack Obama and the other G8 leaders know it isn’t good for them.

• Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

Cannes, the French Riviera (May 18, 2009)

 

The yearly film festival held in Cannes, the Mecca for transacting movie rights and distribution contracts, is eminently a style fashion show for the Superclass, especially women.  Producers, directors, actors, actresses, fashion designers, promoters of all kinds of products and services converge to transact audio-visual services, luxury items, and mostly young flesh.

 

Since the advent of TV the movie industry has faced frequent crisis.  Every now and then you read “Cinema is sick, dying, finished, or dead” but it keeps transforming and cutting expenses, except on promotional budgets that steadily increase. Heavy money are invested in promoting the actors and actresses in magazines, fashion, and charity events; cooked up marital problems and cheating adventures are sneaked into tabloids just to keep them in the spotlight.  The video and DVD revolution has kept families and the adults of over 35 homes but the new generation has to be out and gather in large facilities.

 

Trend adapter consultants evaluate their ideas of what the new generation (people aged 20 to 30) wants and desires. The new generation is navigating the internet and communicating their interests. The gathered information is statistically analyzed by the trend adapter researchers.   It is the new generation that will be spending money on fashions that suit their characters: fashion on display in luxury shops are already out of fashion and have generated the cow cash. Mostly profit is in luxury accessories from belt, to shoes, to necklaces, and shawls.

 

A few renowned actors/actresses are wealthy but most of them are subsidized by the industry to look rich and glamorous; the industry pay the rent of the mansions, luxury cars, hotels, cloths, and diamonds just to keep their stars in the spotlight for their fans.  Most of those who walk on the red carpet are paid pittance for many years until they pay off their dues to be set free for reconsidering initial contracts.  The same goes for directors who meet with new young promises on luxury yachts that do not belong to them.

 

Producers of movies usually wage on one successful movie out of ten failed ones to stay in the active life.  A producer read a book; he is interested in the story, sort a wonderful idea that suits a movie strikes his imagination.  If the right of authorship is available for purchase then he contacts the author and tenders the lowest offer.  Mind you that 60,000 books are published yearly just in the USA and fresh authors crave recognition; especially if their books might be screened. 

Generally, the new author who spent five years writing his “master work” is satisfied with $10,000 that the producer pay as option to reserving the rights for three years. If the book is screened then the author would be paid an additional one hundred thousands dollars plus 2% of the net benefice that never materializes because accounting in Hollywood is designed to show deficits.  The producer needs the signature of the author on the contract so that “THE STUDIO” might consider seriously extending credits for a movie.  The producer makes the round of the studios that he previously worked with.  Most of the times the producer calls up the author asking him to mail back the contract because the time for his ingenious idea has not come.  In the rare occasions that a studio gets excited for an idea then the next phase is for the producer to hire a screen writer, the cheapest ever.  Many drafted scenarios are mailed to the producer and never to the author.  All political connotations in the scenarios that might offend the conservative strata of the public are eliminated.  More love encounters and sex scenes are added; the viewers should be shedding tears, the loved one has to disappear and then be found.  What was a brilliant idea reverts to what it should have boiled down in the first place: a man loves a woman; a man loses a woman; and then a man recovers a woman.  Otherwise, the story has to compensate in more violent actions, car chases, visual, and sound effects.

            The studio has many ready projects to shoot but has to deal with distributing the ended films as widely as is feasible to movie theaters worldwide. The producer has to wait or locate an “independent” distributor.  Independent distributors make money if one out of ten movies is a hit.  In general, distributors are second order producers who decided to be front for “dirty money” investors who need to “clean” their money and generate legitimate income.  It is a costly investment to purchase chains of movie theaters around the world and those with deep pockets of “dirty money”, generated from illegal or illicit transactions, don’t mind taking calculated risks. For example, the famous actor Robert Redford turned producer and then director; he had to break the distribution roadblock by creating “Sundance Film Festival” to encourage independent directors.  Redford has failed to enter wider countries such as Europe and India.  Distributors do not invest a dime in the entire process of producing a movie and yet they make most of the profit.

            The tightly closed club of two thousand billionaires that meet once a year in Davos, Switzerland, under the name of World Economic Forum is formed of very few who acquired their wealth legitimately.  And yet, those powerful figures think that they are endowed “legitimately” to resolving world poverty and instability.

 

The French Federation of Fashion Designers is very powerful.  Not many competitors can join the Federation and powerful political contacts are needed to enter this sacro saint association.  It was established in 1868 and has registered the trade mark “Haute Couture” and fights savagely anyone who uses this expression without its consent.  There is this ceremony every six months (that is the time span of fashion) of “Premiere Vision” (First Viewing) closed to the public. This tradition lasts three weeks and starts in London, then Milan, and ends in Paris. The French Federation has the exclusivity of publishing the catalogue of the two major yearly events (ten thousands copies), of selecting the two thousands journalists and photographers, the mega buyers, and the place for the events.

note: most information from Paulo Coelho.  i feel he did his research.


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