Oxfam: 8 billionaires have amassed half world’s wealth

Income inequality ‘more shocking than ever before,’ NGO said.

1/16/17 Global inequality is so significant that the eight richest billionaires have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population combined, NGO Oxfam said Monday.

In a report released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the charity estimated the funds available to the eight men, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, was equal to that of the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people.

“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when one in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam’s executive director.

Oxfam said inequality had jumped significantly between 1988 and 2011, during which time the income of the world’s poorest 10 percent increased by $65 per person per year, while the top 1 percent recorded an annual spike of $11,800.

The calculations were based on global wealth distribution data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Data book and Forbes’ billionaires list, the NGO said.

However, British free-market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs has questioned Oxfam’s methodology, criticizing its use of net wealth figures.

“It is misleading at best to label the average university graduate who has accumulated £50,000 of debt among the world’s poorest, without any consideration of their future earning potential,” said Mark Littlewood, director general of IEA in a statement, calling Oxfam’s conclusion “spurious.”

The Oxfam report is the latest in a string that have highlighted income inequality ahead of the World Economic Forum. A report released Monday also showed inequality was rising across the globe. SOURCE

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