Oxfam International asserted on Monday that the world could witness its first trillionaire within the next decade, as disclosed in its annual assessment of global inequalities coinciding with the World Economic Forum’s gathering of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland.
Highlighting the widening wealth gap, Oxfam pointed out that the disparities between the super-rich and the majority of the global population have been “supercharged” since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The group highlighted a staggering 114% increase in the fortunes of the five richest individuals – Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison, and Warren Buffett – in real terms since 2020.
Oxfam’s interim executive director, Amitabh Behar, emphasized that the world is entering a “decade of division,” underscoring that the top five billionaires have doubled their wealth while nearly 5 billion people have become poorer. Behar predicted the emergence of a trillionaire within a decade, underlining the urgency to combat poverty, which he argued would take more than 200 years at the current pace.
Currently, Elon Musk holds the title of the richest individual globally, with a personal fortune just below $250 billion, according to Oxfam’s use of Forbes figures. In contrast, the organization noted that nearly 5 billion people have experienced increased poverty since the pandemic, particularly in developing nations lacking financial support during lockdowns.
The report emphasized that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, leading to soaring energy and food costs, disproportionately impacted the world’s poorest nations. With Brazil hosting the Group of 20 (G20) summit, Oxfam seized the opportunity to raise awareness about global inequalities, calling for an “inequality-busting” agenda. Proposed measures include permanent taxation of the wealthiest individuals in every country, more effective corporate taxation, and renewed efforts against tax avoidance.
Oxfam calculated the total wealth of the top five billionaires using Forbes figures from November 2023, reaching $869 billion, a substantial increase from $340 billion in March 2020, representing a nominal increase of 155%. For the bottom 60% of the global population, Oxfam utilized data from the UBS Global Wealth Report 2023 and the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2019, employing the same methodology.