62 People Have More Wealth than Half the World, Top 1% Have More than All of Us

January 18, 2016   |   Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish
January 18, 2016

(ANTIMEDIA) Just 62 individuals now hold the same amount of wealth as 3.6 billion people, the bottom half of the entire planet — a shocking statistic made even more alarming when considering as recently as 2010, that same half of all wealth was held by 388 people. Now, 80 billionaires collectively hold over $2 trillion, while the bottom half has lost $1 trillion of their wealth — in just five years.

A new report published Monday by Oxfam International — tellingly titled, An Economy For The 1% — reveals a number of jaw-dropping figures that illustrate the struggles resultant from such an exponential increase in the stratification of wealth. According to the study:

“The global inequality crisis is reaching new extremes. The richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world combined. Power and privilege is being used to skew the economic system to increase the gap between the richest and the rest. A global network of tax havens further enables the richest individuals to hide $7.6 trillion. The fight against poverty will not be won until the inequality crisis is tackled.”

In only five years, those 62 billionaires saw their wealth grow 44% — an increase of $542 billion — to a whopping $1.76 trillion. And, of course, the flip side of this concentration of money at the top meant “the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period — a drop of 41%.” Half of all global wealth accrued just since the year 2000 ended up in the hands of the 1%, while the poorest half of the planet’s population split a meager 1% of that increase. In nearly 25 years, Oxfam further revealed, the income of the world’s poorest 10% has risen by less than a single cent per day — an increase of less than $3.00 each year.

On average, each adult belonging to the richest 1% on Earth has wealth totaling $1.7 million — a figure 300 times greater than the average held by 90% of people on the planet, “although for many people in the bottom 10 percent their wealth is zero or negative.”

But the poverty-fighting group doesn’t stop with simply listing figures; instead, Oxfam issued a scathing explanation of how such wealth and income disparities became reality.

“Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being sucked upwards at an alarming rate. Once there, an ever more elaborate system of tax havens and an industry of wealth managers ensures that it stays there, far from the reach of ordinary citizens and their governments. One recent estimate is that $7.6 trillion of individual wealth — more than the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the U.K. and Germany — is currently held offshore […]

“Economic policy changes over the past 30 years — including deregulation, privatization, financial secrecy, and globalization, especially of finance — have supercharged the age-old ability of the rich and powerful to use their position to further concentrate their wealth […]

“A powerful example of an economic system that is rigged to work in the interests of the powerful is the global spider’s web of tax havens and the industry of tax avoidance, which has blossomed over recent decades. It has been given intellectual legitimacy by the dominant market fundamentalist world view that low taxes for rich individuals and companies are necessary to spur economic growth and are somehow good news for us all. The system is maintained by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professionals in the private banking, legal, accounting, and investment industries.”

Though there exist perfectly justifiable arguments for the elimination of taxation, in the meantime, these elites and über-rich individuals — and often their corporations — exploit the system for personal benefit in a way not possible for the rest of us. By throwing money into political campaigns, think tanks, lobbying firms, and other means of influence, the ultra-wealthy retain the ability to form policy by proxy. Both dark money and overt funding pressure politicians into legislating for the few. As Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently pointed out, “There’s this notion that the wealthy use their money to buy politicians; more accurately, it’s that they can buy policy, and specifically, tax policy.”

In fact, in an analysis of 200 top companies, including the World Economic Forum’s strategic partners, as well as picks from some of the world’s largest businesses, Oxfam found nine in ten “have a presence in at least one tax haven” — and with just 50 big banks managing the bulk of “offshore wealth,” havens are unbelievably lucrative. Tax avoidance, in creating strains on world governments’ ability to fund basic social programs — including those meant to aid society’s most vulnerable people — has been termed a “violation of international human rights law” by the International Bar Association.

One crucial finding in the report evidences the systemic disparity in pay between men and women around the globe — in particular, the “acceptability of paying women lower wages … cited as a key factor in increasing profitability.” Money-hungry companies avoid implementing vital fire and safety measures to eke out every possible ounce of profit. Employment of monopolies, intellectual property laws, and industry lobbyists further benefits the few at the expense of the majority.

“The current system did not come about by accident,” Oxfam’s report scolds. “[I]t is the result of deliberate policy choices, of our leaders listening to the 1% and their supporters rather than acting in the interests of the majority. It is time to reject this broken economic model.” Even further, Oxfam asserts, humanity can do better than this, we have the talent, the technology, and the imagination to build a much better world. We have the chance to build a more human economy, where the interests of the majority are put first.”

The question is, will we do it?


This article (62 People Have More Wealth than Half the World, Top 1% Have More than All of Us) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.

Author: Claire Bernish

Claire Bernish joined Anti-Media as an independent journalist in May of 2015. Her topics of interest include thwarting war propaganda through education, the refugee crisis & related issues, 1st Amendment concerns, ending police brutality, and general government & corporate accountability. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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27 Comments

  1. Great, good to know, may be we can learn a thing or two from their exploits to make wealth too to rid the world of poverty. They have shown us it is humanly possible, none of them is two headed, at least there is no monster or alien amongst them. They are surely our kind. Thanks guys for showing the way.

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  2. we spend time in front ıf computer, browsing bullshit sites such as this one, they work. it's that simple. we dream they act.

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  3. What an asinine comment! Educate yourself you fool! What they do is legalised fraud!

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  4. Nothing to do with dreaming or acting. This is out and out greed at the expense of the average person. Not everyone has the ability or is afforded an education like the elte. They are greedy, malevolent sons of bitches aided and abetted by criminal governments. Why should they get away with paying tax? Do you pay tax? Unbelievable comment!

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  5. MIke Nuttall time=money for them, time=something to be wasted for us. stop blaming people, learn to look at the mirror.

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  6. You're right! Your parents should have thought long and hard before having you. Then there would be less stupidity in the world. Now that's family planning.

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  7. this is captalism… of the Rich, by the Rich and for the Rich. kuudos for creating such a beautiful system.

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  8. MIke Nuttall My parents didn't have access to birth control. If everything stays the same but personal consumption and polution doubles, humanities impact on the planet doubles. Efficency has slowed the impact but at what cost? Chemical agriculture and factory farming that is affecting the health of everyone. Clear cutting forests is lowering the oxygen levels in the air and oceans. Population spread is endangering wildlife and there are yearly extinctions. Oh yeah, I can agree to increase the overall intellegence of the human race, but that's going to take some family planning. Just don't repeat some dogma that you have heard, learn to think for yourself and that takes some knowledge and some wisdom.

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  9. That's the problem. People actually believe that they can join this exclusive club with hard work and determination! It is more like buying Congress and the big banks and if they feel you are worthy (and rich enough to reciprocate) you can then think ab out it!

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  10. Çağatay Belgen They don't make any money that the poor and middle class don't make FOR them! How many Billionaires do you know personally? Congress has not paseed a law in the last 8 years (at least!0 that didn't shove money to the already rich! Check it out!!! They don't pay taxes at all in many cases and that is not failr at all to the Middle Class which is smaller tahn ever also!

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  11. Michael all things considered the impact of pollution is coming from Corporations rather than families! Even jets have more impact than fleets of cars!Industry such as oil, gas Coal for a start, pollute more than all the cities worth of households!!

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  12. Çağatay Belgen I have a property business, i am not someone who sits around on a computer websit all day as you assume. You do not understand in the slightest about what you are talking about. If you assume it is ok for them to get subsidies when they are already successful and be able to pay no tax you are lacking the most basic intelligence. Again, do you pay tax???

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  13. Janette Nolan There has to be a market for corporations to exist. When countires like China and India catch up to the USA's standard of living what then? People like to be entertained… if you have access to this series, it will clear up where pollution is coming from… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz22hgHCCZM

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  14. Michael Girmann China nd India are cathching up to our standard of living. Mainly because many of our jobs have been shipped to these countries by Greedy Corporations who would rather make money than show any loyalty to their employees and country! ButI am not concerned that they will hurt us as badly as we are hurting outselves! I watched the clip. No idea what your point is. Looks like maybe anti-government stuff? Just guessing….

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  15. Janette Nolan No it's not anti-gov unless you point out that no one is educating people to the reality of overpopulation except for the Chinese,,, the one child per family. Their fast growth contributed to that policy. Corporations are going overseas because they are able to sell more units to meet a demand for cheaper products. We are a big market for them, so they keep their economic growth up by lending us money. However that isn't going to be sustainable. What comes next is anyones guess. Probably nature culling the herd back, 95 percent would do it, unless we do it first and regulate population growth. If not there is a silver lining, golden ages follow pandemics. Then there is tearing each other apart, not a good way to go, nether is starvation.

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  16. MIke Nuttall I think it's obvious Mike Nuttall has a problem with the reality of well being, I would like to encourage you to know that it's a possibility you can be be rich without being evil, being rich is not evil, you do not have to steal to be rich you can do legitimate work and be rich it's all about choices and the use of your time. The richest man that ever lived has yet not been matched yet he died thousands of years ago , his name was Mansa Musa of former Ghana. Be happy and be positive and work and use your time we'll being grateful to God each day and you will be rich in your own right and be happy and better and not bitter about someone else's success. Those who steal know they have no honour.

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  17. Everyone is unique and you don't have to aspire to be exclusive, but aspire to achieve a visit in solving a problem in human life, and riches will only be consequent. It's all about what you put your time to in solving humanity problems.

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  18. Such inequality is the result of unregulated capitalism. The oligarchy and super rich have little empathy for the people, they're to be used. The absolute greed of these narcissists is astounding. Unfortunately humanity can't do better than this.

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  19. Instead of being bitter and nasty about those who have more (for whatever reason), maybe we should simply be thankful for what we do have in life. If we want more, then perhaps we need to work harder.

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  20. I q­ui­­­t wo­­­rk­­­­ing m­­­y de­­s­k jo­­­b an­­d n­­o­w, I st­­­art­­­e­d e­­arn­­­in­­g 9­­5 b­­­­­­uck­­­­­­s ho­­­­ur­­­­­l­y…H­­­­o­w I d­i­d i­­­­­­t? I a­­m f­reelan­­­­­cing o­v­­­­­­­er t­h­­­­­e i­n­t­­­­­­­­­­­­ernet! M­­­y la­­­s­t jo­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­b d­id­­­n't e­­­­­xact­­­­­ly m­­­­­­­­ak­­­­­­e m­­­­­­­­e ha­­­­­­­­­pp­­­­­­y s­­­­­­­­­o I w­­­­­an­t­e­­­­­­d t­­­­­o t­­­­­­­­ak­e a b­­r­e­ak a­­­­nd h­­­av­­­e a f­­­re­­sh s­­tar­­t… A­­­­f­t­e­r 6 y­­­r­s I­t w­­­­as we­­­­­i­rd fo­­r m­e t­o le­­­­­ave m­­y p­­re­­­vi­­­ous j­­­­ob a­n­­­­­d n­­­­­­ow I a­m del­­­igh­ted we­­­r­e i am

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