The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, according to a charity warning of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth.
In a report published in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men are worth the equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people.
Oxfam said the world’s poorest 50 per cent owned the same in assets as the $426bn owned by a group headed by Gates, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, and Warren Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.
The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse the inequality trend, specifying that fundamental change is needed to ensure that economies worked for everyone, not just “a privileged few”.
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said:
“This year’s snapshot of inequality is clearer, more accurate and more shocking than ever before. It is beyond grotesque that a group of men who could easily fit in a single golf buggy own more than the poorest half of humanity.
“While one in nine people on the planet will go to bed hungry tonight, a small handful of billionaires have so much wealth they would need several lifetimes to spend it. The fact that a super-rich elite are able to prosper at the expense of the rest of us at home and overseas shows how warped our economy has become.”
Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs thinktank, said:
“Once again Oxfam have come out with a report that demonises capitalism, conveniently skimming over the fact that free markets have helped over 100 million people rise out of poverty in the last year alone.”
The Oxfam report added that since 2015 the richest one per cent has owned more wealth than the rest of the planet.