Oxfam: 26 billionaires own as much as poorest 50% of humanity

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Just 26 people have as much money as the world’s 3.8 billion poorest in 2018, according to a report by the NGO Oxfam. The year before, there were 43 of them.

The consolidation of wealth has further increased in 2018, there are now only 26 billionaires with as much money in their hands as the poorest half of humanity, denounced the NGO Oxfam, which has called for states to tax the richer adequately. “The widening gap between the rich and the poor is penalising the fight against poverty, hurting the economy and fueling global anger“, Oxfam International’s executive director said today. Winnie Byanyima has reminded governments of their duty to “ensure that businesses and the wealthy pay their share of taxes“.

The publication of Oxfam’s annual Annual Report on Global Inequalities comes at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF), which runs until Friday in Davos. The methodology used relies on the data published by Forbes magazine and the bank Credit Suisse.

As for the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s boss, his wealth reached 112 billion dollars last year. In other words “the health budget of Ethiopia is 1% of his fortune” added the NGO.

Twice as many billionaires since the crisis

Overall, the world billionaires’ wealth increased by $900 billion last year, at a rate of $ 2.5 billion per day, while that of the poorest half of the world’s population dropped by 11%. The number of billionaires has doubled since the 2008 financial crisis, says Oxfam, noting that “the rich have not only expanding fortunes, but also pay the lowest levels of taxes in decades“.

If the trend was reversed, most governments would have enough resources to finance public services” insists the NGO that believes that “wealth is particularly under-taxed“. Adding that on 1 euro of income tax, only 4 cents come from the taxation of wealth.

The poorest pay higher taxes

According to Oxfam, the richest are hiding 7,600 billion dollars of assets in tax havens. And in some countries like Brazil or the United Kingdom “the poorest 10% now pay higher taxes in proportion to their income than the richest“.

This report is published at a time when taxation of the largest fortunes is causing controversy in many countries. In France, the movement of yellow vests has revived the debate on the suppression of the ISF by Emmanuel Macron. In the United States, newly-elected Democrat MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has proposed to tax the richest at a rate of 70%, an initiative supported by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman.