"The wealth of the world's billionaires has increased more in the 19 months of the pandemic than in the last decade," writes Oxfam. The NGO published a report on Monday 17 January entitled "Inequality is killing". It calculates that the wealth of the world's 10 richest billionaires has doubled during the crisis, from $8,600bn to $13,800bn. "The world has a new billionaire every 26 hours. At the same time, 160 million people have fallen into poverty over the same period,” it says.
The NGO refers to the 10 richest people according to the Forbes ranking of 30 November 2021, namely Elon Musk (Tesla), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bernard Arnault and his family (LVMH), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Larry Page (Google), Sergey Brin (Google), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) and Warren Buffet (American businessman).
For the rest of its calculations, Oxfam explains that it uses "the most recent and comprehensive data sources available". It specifies that the figures on the wealth of billionaires come from Forbes magazine and those on the share of wealth come from the Global Wealth Databook 2021 of the Credit Suisse Research Institute. The latter are not always accurate, Le Monde warned in a 2016 article. Those on the incomes of the 99% of the population that are falling are from the World Bank.
Covid does not only increase wealth inequality. Oxfam reminds us that according to the World Economic Forum's "Global gender gap report 2021", the crisis has pushed back the goal of achieving parity between women and men from 99 to 135 years.
This report coincides, as it does every year, with the opening of the Davos Economic Forum. Even if it has been postponed to the summer of 2022 because of Covid-19, some sessions are organised in virtual format since Monday 17 January and until the 21st. Oxfam then proposes a one-off 99% tax on the extra wealth amassed by the world's 10 richest men during the crisis. It would, it says, "fund enough vaccines to immunise the world, close climate funding gaps, fund universal health and social protection, and support efforts to tackle gender-based violence in more than 80 countries, while leaving these people with some $8 billion more than they had before the pandemic".
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.