Oxfam’s Excellent Inequality Report

Felix Salmon, writing for Cause and Effect:

Oxfam has also changed the main frame of the report: rather than concentrating on the total amount of wealth being held by the rich and the poor, they’re looking at the increase in the total amount of wealth held by the rich. I’ve always been OK with adding up the wealth of the rich, and looking at an annual increase is a great way of demonstrating just how enormous the returns to capital were in 2017. Of course, if stocks had gone down instead of up, those returns would have been negative, and Oxfam would have concentrated on something else. But at the end of this crazy bull market, it’s always worth remembering just how enormous the big winners’ gains have been.

Specifically, the world’s billionaires — the richest 2,000 people on the planet — saw their wealth increase by a staggering $762 billion in just one year. That’s an average of $381 million apiece. If those billionaires had simply been content with staying at their 2016 wealth, and had given their one-year gains to the world’s poorest people instead, then extreme poverty would have been eradicated. Hell, they could have eradicated extreme poverty, at least in theory, by giving up just one seventh of their annual gains.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018