New York Daily News

THEY’RE THE .000000001%

Eight titans richer than half the world combined

- BY JASON SILVERSTEI­N With News Wire Services

EIGHT IS enough — when it comes to most of the world’s wealth, anyway.

Eight men have as much wealth as 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population, according to a new report.

A study from the anti-poverty group Oxfam found that the eight richest people on the planet have a net wealth of $426 billion — equaling the earnings of the population’s bottom half.

That’s a stunning change from just three years ago, when Oxfam found that 85 people held that much wealth. Last year, it was 62 people.

“There is no getting away from the fact that the biggest winners in our global economy are those at the top,” according to the report, called “An Economy for the 99 Percent,” issued Monday.

“Far from trickling down, income and wealth are being sucked upward at an alarming rate.”

Oxfam based its findings on the Forbes list of the world’s richest billionair­es, as well as data from the 2016 Global Wealth report from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the richest person in the world by Forbes’ calculatio­ns, has $75 billion alone. He and the seven billionair­es below him — Spanish businessma­n Amancio Ortega ($67 billion), investor Warren Buffett ($60.8 billion), Mexican magnate Carlos Slim ($50 billion), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($45.2 billion), Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg ($44.6 billion), Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison ($43.6 billion) and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($40 billion) — have amassed wealth matching the lower half of the 99%.

The World Bank first calculated in 1993 that most people around the world live on just $1 a day.

If you factor in Oxfam’s findings — taking into account the amount of wealth controlled by the eight aforementi­oned tycoons — the average person lives on just about $2 a day, Oxfam said.

“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when one in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam Internatio­nal. “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty. It is fracturing our societies and underminin­g democracy.”

Oxfam released the report in time for the annual World Economic Forum, which draws the business elite to Davos, Switzerlan­d.

However, many of the tycoons mentioned in the report are also known for their philanthro­py. Gates, for example, has donated $44.3 billion since his foundation was formed in 2000.

Bloomberg is also known for donating to various causes — including public health programs, cultural institutio­ns, and programs to help the environmen­t. Bloomberg has donated $4.3 billion to a wide variety of causes over the years. In 2015 alone, Bloomberg Philanthro­pies handed out $510 million.

The report, meanwhile, pegged several causes for the gaping inequality, including tax dodging by multinatio­nal corporatio­ns, and the spike in executives’ salaries countering the stagnation of worker wages.

“By any measure, we are living in the age of the super-rich, a second ‘gilded age’ in which a glittering surface masks social problems and corruption,” the paper says.

As Oxfam noted in its report, the populist fury over inequality and stagnation propelled the successful campaigns for the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump.

“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 paper says.

“Why would they, when experience suggests that what it delivers is wage stagnation, insecure jobs and a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots? The challenge is to build a positive alternativ­e — not one that increases divisions.”

As a solution, Oxfam proposes a “human economy” with government­s that strengthen regulation­s on businesses, to crack down on tax dodging and cheating of workers.

In the United States, the incoming Trump administra­tion has given no sign of such changes.

Trump has filled his cabinet with fellow billionair­es, and the President-elect himself has not cut ties with his business empire.

Trump, who will be sworn in Friday, also campaigned on deregulati­on of businesses.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA