Billionaires’ share of global wealth soars during Covid pandemic

File photo of US dollar, euro and Swiss franc banknotes displayed in a bank in Budapest August 8, 2011. — Reuters pic
File photo of US dollar, euro and Swiss franc banknotes displayed in a bank in Budapest August 8, 2011. — Reuters pic

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PARIS, Dec 7 — The share of global wealth of the world’s richest people soared at a record pace during the Covid pandemic, a report on inequality showed today.

Since 1995, the slice held by billionaires has risen from one per cent to three per cent, according to the World Inequality Report.

“This increase was exacerbated during the Covid pandemic. In fact, 2020 marked the steepest increase in global billionaires’ share of wealth on record,” the document said.

The club of the richest one per cent has taken more than a third of all additional wealth accumulated since 1995, while the bottom 50 per cent captured just two per cent.

“After more than 18 months of Covid-19, the world is even more polarised,” Lucas Chancel, co-director of the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics, told AFP.

“While the wealth of billionaires rose by more than €3.6 trillion (RM16.9 trillion), 100 million more people joined the ranks of extreme poverty,” said Chancel, noting that extreme poverty had been previously falling for 25 years.

A real-time ranking by Forbes magazine shows that the top 10 richest people each have a net worth exceeding US$100 billion (RM422 billion), with Tesla boss Elon Musk on top with US$264.5 billion.

Only one of the men is not American — LVMH luxury group chief Bernard Arnault — and all but two are tech industry leaders whose fortunes have been turbocharged by soaring company share prices.

The 228-page report, whose contributors include French economist Thomas Piketty, calls for a “modest progressive wealth tax on global multimillionaires” in order to redistribute wealth, along with measures to prevent tax evasion.

“Given the large volume of wealth concentration, modest progressive taxes can generate significant revenues for governments,” the report said. — AFP

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