The world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes to £688bn in three years – while the wealth of the poorest 60% has fallen, according to Oxfam.
It says the first trillionaire could emerge within a decade but that poverty won’t be eradicated for 229 years.
The charity’s report, Inequality Inc, comes as business and political leaders meet for the World Economic Forum in the upmarket Swiss ski resort of Davos.
It’s traditionally used the occasion to highlight the divide between rich and poor, but this year says the gap has been “supercharged” since the pandemic.
The fortunes of Tesla boss Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault – owner of luxury goods firm LVMH, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and investment guru Warren Buffet, have increased 114% in real terms since 2020, says Oxfam.
Their collective wealth is said to have grown from £321bn to £688bn.
Musk alone is estimated to be worth about £180bn, according to the real-time Forbes list Oxfam used for its calculations.
However, the 4.7 billion people who make up the world’s poorest 60% have become 0.2% poorer in real terms, Oxfam says, with many countries unable to give the COVID financial support of richer nations.
The charity’s interim boss says the prospect of a trillionaire in the next 10 years – while poverty could take 200-plus years to resolve – was “totally unacceptable”
“This ever-widening gulf between the rich and the rest isn’t accidental, nor is it inevitable,” said Aleema Shivji.
“Governments worldwide are making deliberate political choices that enable and encourage this distorted concentration of wealth, while hundreds of millions of people live in poverty.
“A fairer economy is possible, one that works for us all. What’s needed are concerted policies that deliver fairer taxation and support for everyone, not just the privileged.”
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Oxfam is hoping its report can help pressurise policymakers in Davos for the 15-19 January summit.
Among those attending are Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Argentina’s new president Javier Milei, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Oxfam wants governments to reduce corporate power by measures such as breaking up monopolies, capping bosses’ pay and bringing in higher taxes on excess profit and wealth.
It’s also pushing for alternatives to the shareholder model, such as forms of employee ownership, and more fair-trade businesses.