The pandemic has made the world’s wealthiest far richer but has led to more people living in poverty, according to a new report by Oxfam.
$15,000 per second
According to the report, the world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion —at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day— during the first two years of a pandemic.
The report further reveals that the Billionaires’ wealth has spiked since COVID-19 began than it has in the last 14 years.
“At $5 trillion dollars, this is the biggest surge in billionaire wealth since records began.” The report says.
The report, at the same time, notes that within the same period the billionaires made their fortunes, incomes of 99 percent of humanity took a dive with over 160 million more people forced into poverty.
The world’s richest now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people.
“If these ten men were to lose 99 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet,” said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.
According to Oxfam, inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.
Oxfam further maintains that extreme inequality is a form of “economic violence, where policies and political decisions that perpetuate the wealth and power of a privileged few result in direct harm to the vast majority of ordinary people across the world and the planet itself”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed openly both the motive of greed, and the opportunity by political and economic means, by which extreme inequality has become an instrument of economic violence,” said Bucher. “After years now of researching and campaigning on the issue, this is the shocking but inevitable conclusion that Oxfam has had to reach today.”
The report attributes the gains made by the billionaires to some of the COVID-19 economic stimulus packages introduced by governments to cushion the economy.
“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom. Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people. The result is that every kind of inequality imaginable risks rising. The predictability of it is sickening. The consequences of it kill,” said Bucher.
Oxfam has called for the taxation of the new wealth gained by world billionaires during the pandemic and channel the funds to cater for some of the world’s most pressing issues including covid-19 vaccines.
“Clawback the gains made by billionaires by taxing this huge new wealth made since the start of the pandemic through permanent wealth and capital taxes. A one-off 99 percent tax on the ten richest men’s pandemic windfalls, for example, could pay: to make enough vaccines for the world; provide universal healthcare and social protection, fund climate adaptation and reduce gender-based violence in over 80 countries; while still leaving these men $8 billion better off than they were before the pandemic”.
Oxfam routinely publishes the report ahead of the World Economic Forum.