Richest 1% grab two-thirds of new $42tr wealth: Oxfam

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The top 1 per cent of earners grabbed nearly two-thirds of all the new wealth, or $26 trillion of the $42 trillion, generated since 2020, according to a report by Oxfam International released yesterday.

This is almost twice the amount of money captured by the bottom 99 per cent of the global population at the same time, it said.

Moreover, the top 1 per cent have doubled their wealth in the past decade, as per the report, styled “Survival of the Richest”, published on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

As such, extreme wealth and extreme poverty have increased simultaneously for the first time in 25 years.

“While ordinary people are making daily sacrifices on essentials such as food, the super-rich have outdone even their wildest dreams,” said Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International.

“Just two years in, this decade is shaping up to be the best yet for billionaires across the globe — a roaring ’20s boom for the world’s richest,” she added.

The report suggested that taxing the super-rich and big corporations is the only way out of today’s overlapping crises.

“So, it is time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow ‘trickling down’ to everyone else. 40 years of tax cuts for the super-rich have shown that a rising tide does not lift all ships — just the superyachts.”

The report then said billionaires have seen extraordinary increases in their wealth in recent times.

During the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis years since 2020, 63 per cent of all new wealth was captured by the richest 1 per cent while the remaining 37 per cent went to the rest of the world put together.

This means that each billionaire gained roughly $1.7 million for every $1 of new global wealth earned by a person in the bottom 99 per cent, it added.

Another way of seeing it is that billionaire fortunes have increased by around $2.7 billion a day, which comes on top of a decade of historic gains.

Continuing the trend, billionaire wealth surged in 2022 with rapidly rising food and energy profits, Oxfam said in its report, citing how 95 food and energy corporations more than doubled their profits that year.

These companies made $306 billion in windfall profits and paid out $257 billion, 84 per cent of which went to rich shareholders.

The Walton dynasty, which owns half of Walmart, received $8.5 billion over the last year.

Indian billionaire Gautam Adani, who owns major energy corporations in the neighbouring country, has seen this wealth soar by $42 billion, or 46 per cent, in 2022 alone, the report said.