The five richest people in the world have gotten much richer in the past few years. According to Oxfam’s yearly report on inequality released on Sunday, their combined wealth has increased by 114% since 2020, reaching a total of $869 billion when adjusting for inflation. If things keep going this way, there might be a person with a trillion-dollar net worth in the world within the next ten years.
Meanwhile, almost 5 billion people worldwide are experiencing increased poverty due to factors like inflation, war, and the climate crisis. If things continue as they are now, it would require nearly 230 years to eradicate poverty based on the current path.
The report uses information gathered by Forbes and is released to coincide with the start of the yearly World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. This event brings together some of the richest individuals and global leaders.
Even though inequality is increasing, there are positive aspects, according to Nabil Ahmed, the director of economic and racial justice at Oxfam America. Workers are making gains through strikes and negotiations for improved pay and working conditions. Additionally, certain governments are supporting them by implementing policies that enhance workers’ rights.
Ahmed stated, “We are in a new Gilded Age, but workers, regulators, and union and community organizers are beginning to challenge it.”
The Riches Got Richer
In the past few years, Elon Musk, overseeing various companies such as Tesla and SpaceX, experienced a significant financial gain. His wealth reached $245.5 billion by the end of November, marking a 737% increase from March 2020, adjusted for inflation.
Bernard Arnault, the chairperson of the French luxury goods company LVMH, and his family saw their net worth rise to $191.3 billion, reflecting a growth of 111%.
The founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, saw his wealth increase to $167.4 billion, a rise of 24%.
Larry Ellison, the founder of Oracle, had a total wealth of $145.5 billion, experiencing a substantial increase of 107%.
Completing the top five list of the wealthiest individuals was Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, whose net worth grew by 48% to reach $119.2 billion.
In general, billionaires’ wealth has increased by $3.3 trillion, a 34% growth since 2020. Oxfam reports that their fortunes have expanded three times faster than the inflation rate.
U.S. billionaires, a significant number of whom accumulate wealth through the equity in the companies they manage, are now $1.6 trillion wealthier.
Oxfam’s Eye-Opening Report
Oxfam’s latest report contends that businesses are generating substantial profits, contributing to the wealth accumulation of the affluent. According to the report, seven out of the world’s ten largest publicly traded companies either have a billionaire serving as the CEO or a billionaire holding the primary share ownership.
Additionally, Oxfam reports that the wealthiest 1% possesses 43% of the world’s financial assets, utilizing information from Wealth X. In the United States, this segment owns 32%, while in Asia, it amounts to 50%. In the Middle East, the top 1% holds 48% of financial wealth, and in Europe, it’s at 47%.
Oxfam reported that approximately 148 of the world’s largest corporations earned nearly $1.8 trillion in profits in the 12 months leading up to June 2023. This represents a 52.5% increase compared to their average profits from 2018 to 2021. Oxfam specifically highlights the oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical companies, and the financial industry for experiencing higher profits in the past year or two compared to their averages in previous years.
Ahmed stated, “We must not overlook the impact of monopoly power in shifting wealth towards the top.”
Oxfam is urging governments to take action.
Amitabh Behar, the interim executive director of Oxfam International, stated, “Government intervention can control excessive corporate power and reduce inequality, creating a market that is fairer and not dominated by billionaires. Governments need to step in to dismantle monopolies, empower workers, impose taxes on these enormous corporate profits, and, importantly, invest in a new era of public goods and services.”
Oxfam’s report exposes a huge wealth divide, with the super-rich growing even richer while almost 5 billion people struggle in poverty. Despite some progress in workers’ rights, urgent government action is needed to control corporate power, tackle inequality, and invest in public well-being.