The Richest Few Have More Wealth Than the Poorest Half

Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report published by Oxfam today to mark the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos.

Oxfam’s report, ‘An economy for the 99 percent’, shows that the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had been feared. It details how big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by dodging taxes, driving down wages and using their power to influence politics.
- Oxfam, Just 8 men own same wealth as half the world, 16 January 2017

The top 1 percent in America owns more than the bottom 90 percent.
- Nicholas Kristof, What Monkeys Can Teach Us About Fairness, NYT, JUNE 3, 2017

In 2013, the world’s 85 wealthiest individuals had a net worth equal to that of our planet’s 3.5 billion poorest people.
- ROB NIXON, Future Footprints: ‘The Human Age,’ by Diane Ackerman, NYT, SEPT. 5, 2014

James H. Simons, a ... hedge fund operator from Boston now approaching 80, is a big Democratic donor. Warren A. Stephens... inherited a family investment bank and became a booster of conservative Republicans.

But Mr. Simons and Mr. Stephens are both billionaires who have used the services of offshore finance — the trusts and shell companies that the world’s wealthiest people use to park their money beyond the reach of tax collectors and out of the public eye. ...

Mr. Stephens used an opaque holding company to own an approximately 40 percent stake in a loan business accused by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of cheating working-class and poor Americans. While earning millions from the investment, Mr. Stephens helped finance a political onslaught against the bureau, never mentioning his personal connection to the fight. ...

The richest 1 percent of the world’s population now owns more than half of global wealth, and the top 10 percent owns about 90 percent.

“The data suggests that most of the gains at the top are coming at the expense of the rest of the population,” Mr. Zucman said. That conclusion is shared by many other scholars.

The wealthy use the power that accompanies their money, he said, to exert political influence, reduce taxes and regulation — and hire experts to keep their money safe. ...

During last year’s campaign, Mr. Stephens contributed $3 million to Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee that has pushed Congress to strip the bureau’s enforcement powers.
Along with helping bankroll such Washington battles, Mr. Stephens has recently used his investment bank, Stephens Inc., to start an online video series called “This Is Capitalism” to improve millennials’ opinion of free-market economics.

In his introduction, Mr. Stephens wrote that he hoped the series would counter the notion that the free market is “a system that enriches a few at the expense of the many.”
- SCOTT SHANE, SPENCER WOODMAN and MICHAEL FORSYTHE, How Business Titans, Pop Stars and Royals Hide Their Wealth, NYT, NOV. 7, 2017

Half of England is owned by less than 1% of its population, according to new data shared with the Guardian that seeks to penetrate the secrecy that has traditionally surrounded land ownership.
- Rob Evans, Half of England is owned by less than 1% of the population, The Guardian, 18 Apr 2019

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