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At least someone benefited from the pandemic: the top 10 richest people in the world doubled their fortunes

According to the charity Oxfam, The pandemic has made the richest in the world even richer, and the poor have become much more, reports with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

The declining incomes of the world's poorest people are causing 21 deaths every day, according to the report.
Since March 2020, the 10 richest people in the world have more than doubled their collective wealth, according to Oxfam.
Oxfam usually releases a report on global inequality at the start of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

At this event, thousands of corporate and political leaders, celebrities, activists, economists and journalists gather at the Swiss ski resort for drink parties, discussions and chatter.

However, for the second year in a row, the meeting (scheduled for this week) will be held online - after the emergence of the omicron variant derailed plans to return to an in-person event.

Discussions this week will include the likely future path of the pandemic, vaccine equity, and energy transition.

Danny Sriskandaraja, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said the charity compiles a report every year in Davos to capture the attention of the economic, business and political elite.

“This year, what’s happening is off the charts,” he said. “During this pandemic, a new billionaire is born almost every day, while 99% of the world’s population is in dire straits due to lockdowns, reduced international trade, reduced international tourism, and as a result, another 160 million people are pushed into poverty.” .

“There is something deeply wrong with our economic system,” he added.

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According to Forbes data cited by the charity, the top ten richest people in the world are: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and his family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffett.

While collectively their wealth rose from $700 billion to $1,5 trillion between March 2020 and November 2021, there are significant differences between the two: Musk's wealth grew by more than 1000%, while Gates's grew by a more modest 30%.

Oxfam's decision to measure growth since the start of the pandemic, when global share prices plummeted, also skews the results slightly.

The wealth of the world's richest people tends to come from their stock holdings, which plummeted in March 2020, meaning that subsequent growth has come from that lower base.

Photo: Shutterstock

Had Oxfam taken measurements just before the start of the pandemic, the increase would have been less pronounced.

However, one of the authors of the report, Max Lawson, said: “If we instead take the wealth of billionaires in mid-February 2020, then we estimate that the increase in the ten richest people is more than 70%, which is still a record increase, of which we never seen before."

How does Oxfam do the calculations?

The Oxfam report is based on data from the Forbes Billionaires List and Credit Suisse's annual Global Wealth report, which shows the distribution of global wealth since 2000.

The Forbes poll uses the value of a person's assets, mostly property and land, less debt, to determine what he or she "owns." The data does not include wages or income.

This methodology has been criticized in the past as it means that a student with large debts but high earning potential in the future, for example, will be considered poor according to the criteria used.

Oxfam also says that because prices have risen during the pandemic, it has adjusted for inflation with the US Consumer Price Index (CPI), which tracks how quickly the cost of living rises over time.

The Oxfam report, which was also based on data from the World Bank, said lack of access to health care, hunger, gender-based violence and climate change contributed to one death every four seconds.

It states that 160 million people live on less than $5,50 a day.

The World Bank uses $5,50 a day as a measure of poverty in upper middle income countries.

Report details

The pandemic is forcing developing countries to cut social spending as public debt rises.
Gender equality has been thrown back: 13 million fewer women are working now than in 2019, and more than 20 million girls are at risk of never returning to school.

Ethnic minorities have been hardest hit by Covid, including British Bangladeshis and blacks in the US.

“Even during a global crisis, our unfair economies manage to provide windfalls for the richest, but fail to protect the poorest,” Sriskandaraja said.

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He said political leaders now have a historic opportunity to support bolder economic strategies to "change the lethal course we are following."

This should include more progressive tax regimes that levy higher levies on capital and wealth, with revenue channeled towards "quality universal health care and social protection for all," Criskandaraja said.

Photo: Shutterstock

Oxfam is also calling for the relinquishment of intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines to enable wider production and faster distribution.

Earlier this month, World Bank President David Malpass raised concerns about widening global inequality, arguing that the impact of inflation and measures to combat it could hurt poorer countries more.

“Weak countries will continue to fall further and further behind,” he said.

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