ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les 1 % des plus riches possèdent plus que 99 % de la population mondiale
Translated Tuesday 3 March 2015, by
The latest report by the NGO Oxfam warns of the growth in the concentration of wealth, hence inequality, at a world level. The organisation wants to challenge the principal heads of state who will meet this week at the Economic Forum in Davos.
In a study published yesterday, the NGO Oxfam stresses the growth of inequality between the very rich and the rest of the world population. The organisation wishes to highlight this in advance of the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), which runs from Wednesday to Saturday at which 300 political leaders will meet, notably German chancellor Angela Merkel, President François Hollande, Italian head of government Matteo Renzi, Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang and also the American secretary of state, John Kerry.
The NGO Oxfam calls for states to adopt a plan against inequality.
The study reveals that, even if the concentration of wealth reduced from the beginning of 2000 and the economic crisis accentuated the trend, this strongly reversed from 2010. In the paper, titled “Wealth: Having it all and wanting more”, and based on information published by, bank, Credit Suisse and Forbes magazine, Oxfam warns that “the richest 1 per cent have seen their share of global wealth increase from 44 per cent in 2009 to 48 per cent in 2014 and at this rate will be more than 50 per cent in 2016”. Which means that the 1% of the world’s most favoured will own, in the coming year, greater wealth than that of the remaining 99%.
Oxfam already drew much attention last year at the Davos Forum, in publishing an alarming report on the inequalities. At the time, the NGO revealed that “the 85 richest individuals in the world have as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population”. Today, they would be 80 who own as much as 3.5 billion people, as opposed to 388 in 2010. The fortune of these few individuals rose by 1,300 billion dollars and could even reach 1,900 billion next year, being an increase of 50% in four years, according to the NGO. The study also concentrates an a few personalities in order to better illustrate its points. For example, between March 2013 and March 2014, the wealth of Warren Buffett augmented by 9% (being almost 5 billion dollars), that of businessman Michael Bloomberg by 22% (being 6 billion dollars), and Carl Icahn, by 23% (4.5 billion dollars), and that of financier George Soros, by 20% (3.8 billion dollars).
Moreover, if that concentration seems spectacular at the level of the richest 1%, major inequalities can equally be observed amongst the remaining 99%. In 2014, 52% of the world’s wealth which escaped the 1% most favoured, fell almost exclusively into the hands of 19% of the population. The result is that, in the end, 80% of the population must content itself with 5.5% of the wealth, according to the report. “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast” explains the director of Oxfam, Winnie Byanyima. She continues: “Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost free option - failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality - they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around. “
In addition to the warning, the NGO also wants to provide solutions and call for states to adopt a plan. This would propose seven points: halting tax evasion on the vast fortunes of big companies; investment favouring free and universal public services like health and education; equitable redistribution of the tax burden, making it lighter on the side of labour and consumers, while increasing taxes on capital and wealth; instituting a minimum wage and action to achieve a decent salary for all workers; bringing in legislation in favour of equal pay and the promotion of economic policies assuring the equal treatment of women; adoption of a common objective of fighting inequality on an international scale; introduction of sufficient social protection for the poorest, most notably a guarantee of a minimum income.