World’s Ten Richest Men Have More Than Doubled Their Fortunes From £500 billion to £1.1 TRILLION During C0VID Pandemic, Report Finds
By Rachael Bunyan
– Oxfam found the men’s wealth increased at an average rate of £1billion per day
– Among world’s 10 richest men are Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos
– Oxfam said the billionaires’ wealth rose more during pandemic than it did the previous 14 years
The world’s 10 wealthiest men doubled their fortunes during the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic as poverty and inequality soared, a report said on Monday.
Oxfam said the men’s wealth jumped from £500 billion ($700 billion) to £1.1 trillion ($1.5 trillion), at an average rate of £1 billion ($1.3 billion) per day, in a briefing published before a virtual mini-summit of world leaders being held under the auspices of the World Economic Forum.
Among the world’s 10 richest men are Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.
Oxfam said the billionaires’ wealth rose more during the pandemic than it did the previous 14 years, when the world economy was suffering the worst recession since the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
It called this inequality ‘economic violence’ and said inequality is contributing to the death of 21,000 people every day due to a lack of access to healthcare, gender-based violence, hunger and climate change.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is among the top 10 richest men in the world
The pandemic has plunged 160 million people into poverty, the charity added, with non-white ethnic minorities and women bearing the brunt of the impact as inequality soared.
‘The pandemic has been a billionaire bonanza,’ Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said.
‘When governments did the rescue packages and pumped trillions into the economy and to financial markets in order to support the economy for all, what happened is a lot of it went into the pockets of the billionaires.’
Vaccine development has been one of the pandemic’s success stories but Bucher said they’ve been ‘hoarded by the rich countries’ seeking to protect pharmaceutical monopolies.
The report follows a December 2021 study by the group which found that the share of global wealth of the world’s richest people soared at a record pace during the pandemic.
The study found that the top 1% have captured 19 times more of global wealth growth than the whole of the bottom 50% of humanity.
‘Inequality is now as great as it was at the pinnacle of Western imperialism in the early 20th century. The Gilded Age of the late 19th Century has been surpassed,’ the report said
Oxfam urged tax reforms to fund worldwide vaccine production as well as healthcare, climate adaptation and gender-based violence reduction to help save lives.
Oxfam called for rich countries to waive intellectual property rules on COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to expand their production.
A one-off 99% tax on the 10 richest men’s pandemic windfalls could earn more than $800 billion and be used to fund that effort and other progressive social spending, the group said.
‘We would also be able to compensate for the damage of climate change and have policies that address gender-based violence,’ while still leaving the 10 billionaires $8 billion richer than they were at the start of the pandemic, she added.
The group said it based its wealth calculations on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available, and used the 2021 Billionaires List compiled by the US business magazine Forbes.
Forbes listed the world’s 10 richest men as: Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, former Microsoft CEOs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, US investor Warren Buffet and the head of the French luxury group LVMH, Bernard Arnault.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The group noted that the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest economies, are starting to consider policies aimed at countering inequality, such as raising tax rates on the rich and taking action against corporate monopolies.
‘The point is extreme inequality is not inevitable and this is why it brings us hope,’ Bucher said.
Oxfam has long sought to inspire debate at the annual gathering of business and political elites typically held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
The pandemic forced organisers to put off the event for a second year, instead holding virtual sessions where political leaders will be joined by business executives and campaigning groups such as Oxfam.
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