Home > Uncategorized > 42 people vs. 3.7 billion people

42 people vs. 3.7 billion people

from David Ruccio


According to Oxfam’s analysis of data produced by Credit Suisse (which I analyzed in a different manner late last year), 42 billionaires now own the same wealth as the bottom half—3.7 billion people—of the world’s population. 

Together, those 3.7 billion people own only one half of one percent (0.53 percent) of the world’s wealth, a figure that rises to just about one percent (0.96 percent) when net debt is excluded.

In 2017, 42 billionaires on the Forbes billionaires list had a cumulative net worth of $1,498 billion—more than the wealth of the bottom 50 percent. When debt is excluded, that figure rises to 128 billionaires, who had a net worth of $2,694 billion.

Over the last decade, ordinary workers have seen their incomes rise by an average of just 2 percent a year, while billionaire wealth has been rising by 13 percent a year—nearly six times faster.

Without a fundamental change in economic institutions, the arc of capitalist history will continue to bend toward greater inequality.

  1. January 22, 2018 at 9:21 pm

    I am not sure what to make of this. Should we be surprised? Where in history do we find otherwise? Are w to rush to the barricades with our pitchforks? Who shall we find there? Are we to avenge our jealousy on the poor billionaires as they hide out behind their walls and armed handlers? What is to be done? – an old question, of course. A new society that cuts the billionaires off at the knees – or at least at the financial pass? A better society? Says who?

    • January 22, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      Well, I think there is reason to believe that the specious reasoning which has been advanced by The Oligarchy’s educated minions—which has persuaded governments to reduce the tax obligations of rich people and worsen wealth inequality around the world—can ultimately be defeated by sound logic and a superior understanding of the non-negative effects of progressive income taxation.

      Such optimism, of course, is based on my assumption that most educated souls want to know and defend The Truth, and are willing at some point to challenge society’s Leadership Class on the simplistic stupidity of the assumptions they’ve embraced…

      • Rob
        January 23, 2018 at 1:17 am

        I’m with a James. My greatest concern is that far too many Americans appear to be well educated (i.e., four years college) but still spend little time thinking. Many educated Americans reflexively parrot market fundamentalism troupes.

        Oh how high the mountain is! Alas, I’m left quoting the wisdom of an Econoclast,

        “I don’t know anything else to do but climb mountains :) With Dylan Thomas, ‘I’ll not go gently into that good night.’”

  2. Rob
    January 22, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Not long ago I finished reading The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Walter Scheidel (http://a.co/gywiyph). I offer no predictions, only hunches, intuition, and preferences. I prefer evolution over violent leveling by whatever means. My intuition is that this growing inequality is inherently destabilizing to global civilization. This was proven in the 2007-2008 Great Recession and Financial Collapse. The opportunism and greed of the financial elite engaged in behaviors’ that undermined and destroyed the very institutions that capitalism depends upon for its own survival. We (collectively) either find the wisdom to face the true causes and so re-orient economics to prevent such systemic market manipulation, deception, and self-destructive behavior or we shall globally face the consequences. Unmitigated greed is self-consuming and an unworthy motive for building a just and sustainable world economic system.

  3. January 22, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    Right, Scheidel is good and timely – but, I believe, underplays the 1%’s ability to appropriate that taxpayer-funded’s military means to defend itself – so creating a steeper hill for use to climb, pitchfork in hand.

  4. January 22, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    The hope is/was that ‘democracy’ would do the job of creating a better society without pitchfork violence – the thesis tested by Glasnost/Perestroika. But what is the experiment’s result? What can we learn from China about the future of our notion of democracy?

    • Rob
      January 22, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Your question assumes (begs the question) there is one notion of democracy. What ever do you mean by ‘notion of democracy’?

  5. January 22, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    What should we learn from the US’s Tax Reform?

    • Rob
      January 22, 2018 at 10:30 pm

      Why don’t you tell us what we should learn and stop being a tease ;-) Please take this with the humor and irony it was intended.

  6. Rob
    January 22, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Personally, I believe we are heading for another world war and a Dark Ages 2.0. But then nothing is written in stone.

  7. January 22, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    As an ex-nuclear engineer I think we all over-estimate the result of global nuclear war – yes I loved On The Beach and Kahn’s Doomsday machine – but look at humankind’s dogged persistence in, say, Syria or Peurto Rico or the favella’s or the South Side. There’s a huge number of us – even dismissing the Preppers.

    • Rob
      January 22, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      An optimistic nuclear war, eh? I have no idea, only a bunch the current path is unsustainable. Humanity may well test you optimistic theory ;-)

    • Rob
      January 22, 2018 at 10:22 pm

      Do you have children?

      • January 22, 2018 at 10:35 pm

        Actually no – but how can that matter to us who have just agreed (albeit indirectly) to history’s most monstrous non-violent theft from our children and their children and so on … (as well as from the poor, sick, uneducated, and otherwise needy)?

      • Rob
        January 22, 2018 at 10:45 pm

        Indeed, I think we are speaking the same language. As a parent I do find it hard to be an optimist when it comes to global conflict (nuclear or otherwise). One would hope to leave this world better off for one’s children (all children actually, not just one’s own).

    • January 22, 2018 at 10:39 pm

      I did not think this might appear as optimism – surely of the most meager kind. More blunt realism, we are scourge that no power can cleanse from the Earth – though it is quite certain that Mother Nature has something up her copious sleeve that will do us in.

      • Rob
        January 22, 2018 at 10:48 pm

        I’m being ironic as I don’t really see much of any real difference and the simple fact is nobody knows what a post global nuclear war world will look like, not even smart engineers like yourself, given we could line a hundred of you up and get n-1 different opinions ;-)

      • Rob
        January 22, 2018 at 10:54 pm

        “we are scourge that no power can cleanse from the Earth.” Like smart cockroaches, eh? For a scientific guy you sure have a puritan’s optimism when it comes to human nature ;-) We certainly are a mixed bag of nuts aren’t we!

      • Rob
        January 22, 2018 at 11:02 pm

        “though it is quite certain that Mother Nature has something up her copious sleeve that will do us in.” You mean we can’t engineer our way out of the ace up mother natures sleeve? She appears more resilient than we give her credit for, but then how far we can stretch that resiliency is unknown. In the end, I want to turn my energies away from mere speculation and try to find pragmatic solutions to mitigate harm buying time for our children to get right what we (my generation) so royally screwed up ;-)

  8. Benjamin Morgentau
    January 23, 2018 at 7:10 am

    I do remember that some years ago around 2011 the CS wealth report had to be taken out of circulation and reprinted with a new set if data. The data sets dealing with the poorest and the richest had to be taken out of the statistics and the report republished with a more equalised data set. This was because the banks very rich clients complained that the obscene wealth distribution discrepancies between the poor and the rich could lead to unpleasant situations.

  9. January 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Beginning date is poor as stock market was at the bottom of a cycle and today it is near a top!

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