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Wealth of world’s 10 richest men doubled in pandemic: Oxfam

BI Desk || BusinessInsider

Published: 09:20, 17 January 2022  
Wealth of world’s 10 richest men doubled in pandemic: Oxfam

Representational Image. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia

The pandemic has made the world's wealthiest far richer but has led to more people living in poverty, according to the charity Oxfam.

Lower incomes for the world's poorest contributed to the death of 21,000 people each day, its report claims.

But the world's 10 richest men have more than doubled their collective fortunes since March 2020, Oxfam said.

Oxfam typically releases a report on global inequality at the start of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

That event usually sees thousands of corporate and political leaders, celebrities, campaigners, economists and journalists gather in the Swiss ski resort for panel discussions, drinks parties and schmoozing.

However for the second year running, the meeting (scheduled for this week) will be online-only after the emergence of the Omicron variant derailed plans to return to an in-person event.

This week's discussions will include the likely future path of the pandemic, vaccine equity and the energy transition.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB's chief executive, said the charity timed the report each year to coincide with Davos to attract the attention of economic, business and political elites.

"This year, what's happening is off the scale," he said. "There's been a new billionaire created almost every day during this pandemic, meanwhile 99% of the world's population are worse off because of lockdowns, lower international trade, less international tourism, and as a result of that, 160 million more people have been pushed into poverty."

"Something is deeply flawed with our economic system," he added.

According to Forbes figures cited by the charity, the world's 10 richest men are: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.

While collectively their wealth grew from $700bn to $1.5tn, there is significant variation between them, with Mr Musk's fortune growing by more than 1,000%, while Mr Gates' rose by a more modest 30%.

This week's discussions will include the likely future path of the pandemic, vaccine equity and the energy transition.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB's chief executive, said the charity timed the report each year to coincide with Davos to attract the attention of economic, business and political elites.

"This year, what's happening is off the scale," he said. "There's been a new billionaire created almost every day during this pandemic, meanwhile 99% of the world's population are worse off because of lockdowns, lower international trade, less international tourism, and as a result of that, 160 million more people have been pushed into poverty."

"Something is deeply flawed with our economic system," he added.

According to Forbes figures cited by the charity, the world's 10 richest men are: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.

While collectively their wealth grew from $700bn to $1.5tn, there is significant variation between them, with Mr Musk's fortune growing by more than 1,000%, while Mr Gates' rose by a more modest 30%.

That should include more progressive tax regimes, which impose higher levies on capital and wealth, with the revenue spent on "quality universal healthcare and social protection for all" Mr Sriskandarajah said.

Oxfam is also calling for the intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines to be waived to enable wider production and faster distribution.

Earlier this month the president of the World Bank, David Malpass, voiced his concerns over widening global inequality, arguing the impact of inflation and measures to tackle it were likely to cause more damage to poorer countries.

"The outlook for the weaker countries is still to fall further and further behind," he said.

UCB