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A mountain of wealth: Davos edition
Welcome to the first Equals Bulletin - insights brought to you by Oxfam’s inequality team
This week the super rich hopped on their private jets to Davos. Billionaires have a lot to celebrate, despite a pandemic and the cost of living crisis, their wealth has increased by an enormous $2.6 trillion since before the pandemic.
WEF might be filled with slick corporate spin, but Oxfam is at the event to set the record straight and bring you the best available evidence about the extreme state of global inequality.
In this week’s newsletter we cover the most important stats and charts from our new report Survival of the Richest.
Inequality crisis in numbers
Where did the Covid cash go? This year we reveal that since 2020 almost two-thirds of all new wealth (63%) has gone to the richest 1%, twice as much as the rest of the world put together. This was driven by asset prices rising dramatically off the back of huge government intervention in the economy and is a marked acceleration compared to the last decade. The bottom 90% received just one tenth. Government interventions brought most economies back from the brink of disaster, but the world’s richest people are the ones who have prospered. Trickle-up economics at its finest.
Sitting on a mountain of wealth. The Swiss ski resort is an appropriate setting for the world’s elite to meet – given the surrounding mountains hold a striking resemblance to rise of billionaire wealth.
Not what we had in mind. Ten years ago, Oxfam first sounded the alarm at the Davos about extreme levels of inequality. Since then, billionaires have doubled their wealth and doubled in number, making nearly 6 times more than the bottom 50% of the world combined.
A kick in the teeth for workers. Our analysis of 96 countries found that today at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages with $337 billion being wiped from global wages in real terms. This is almost certainly the biggest real cut in wages in history.
The cost of profit crisis. Excessive corporate profits are fuelling inflation with food and energy companies making bank from the cost of living crisis. We’ve crunched the numbers, more on that in the coming weeks!
Not all doom and gloom. The world saw some of the most successful years of economic development when the rich were taxed the most. We know what works. Worldwide, only four cents in every tax dollar now comes from taxes on wealth. This needs to change.
#TaxTheRich. Our analysis shows that an annual wealth tax of up to 5 percent on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year. Imagine how that could transform the world.
The Times They Are A-Changin'. In Latin America, a group of nations, led by Colombia and Chile, have concrete plans to increase taxation on the richest.
By abolishing decades-long tax privileges and loopholes that benefit only the richest, there will be more money to invest in free, quality public services like education and healthcare. José Antonio Ocampo, Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Colombia
Other nations across the world are doing the same. Protests are happening around the world and at Davos itself to demand an end to inequality. Millionaires are actually joining the protests in Switzerland, demanding to be taxed in what must be the ultimate man bites dog moment.
Some things to read, watch and listen to
Listen to this week’s Equals podcast featuring Joseph Stiglitz on inequality, war profiteers and a new cold war (out tomorrow 20th January).
Watch this news clip to learn why your bad back is only going to get worse.
Join the Black Band Friday protest on 20th January to demand governments tax the rich.