As the rest of the world suffered financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10 richest men in the world doubled their fortunes, according to a report published Monday by economic justice and advocacy group Oxfam.
The study illuminated a global inequity between the rich and lower classes. Official data from the report noted that the 10 richest men, which includes kingpins Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, increased in sum total their salaries from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion from March of 2020 to November of 2021. The study was not peer-reviewed.
Meanwhile, those who fell below the top percentile of income – 99% of people worldwide – saw a decrease in income over that same timespan, the report indicates based on data compiled from the World Bank. Even worse, the report detailed that more than 160 million people have been forced to poverty.
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“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic,” Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said in a statement released Monday. “Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom.”
Bucher noted from the Oxfam report that the great divide has “deadly” consequences because many lower-income households are unable to pay for health care. Oxfam is pushing for a tax on the rich as a way to begin “righting the violent wrongs of this obscene inequality.”
Oxfam calculated the wealth gains for its methodology of the 10 richest men based on Forbes’ real-time data on billionaires. According to Forbes, Tesla executive Musk is the richest man in the world through 2021 with $268 billion, while Amazon executive Bezos came in second at $188 billion. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett were also on the list.
Much of the Oxfam study follows the trend of the stock market, which has sharply vaulted up since March 2020 due to monetary policies enacted by the Federal Reserve. That’s created an opening to massive, untaxed wealth gains for the rich, while those who don’t have any market shares are left with no room to gain. A June report by ProPublica, which obtained secret IRS files, revealed a trove of never-before-seen records outlining how the wealthiest in the world avoid income tax.