RAMPANT inequality has reached the point where a group of men owning the same wealth as half the planet’s population could squeeze onto a single golf buggy.
Eight billionaires now have a combined wealth equivalent to 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest people, according to yesterday’s alarming revelation from Oxfam.
The anti-poverty charity is calling for an overhaul of a “warped” economy that allows a small group of people to hoard more wealth than they can spend while billions go hungry.
Out-of-control pay ratios also mean the average FTSE 100 company boss rakes in 129 times as much as a typical employee’s earnings — and equivalent to 10,000 people working in Bangladeshi garment factories.
The shocking statistics were released as new improved data on global wealth distribution, particularly in India and China, found that the world’s poorest are worse off than previously thought.
And the report also warned that if things carry on the way they are going we could see the world’s first trillionaire in just 25 years.
Oxfam’s study is directed at world leaders gathering this week for their exclusive annual knees-up at luxury Swiss ski resort Davos.
The annual World Economic Forum, to be attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond, has been heavily criticised as being little more than a networking event for the rich and powerful.
Oxfam is demanding the international political and business leaders clamp down on global tax dodging, build in more benefits for staff rather than just shareholders back and wealth taxes to fund healthcare.
Businesses should also commit to paying the living wage and provide more opportunities for women, it said.
If the new data had been available when the charity conducted similar research last year its report would have found nine billionaires, rather than 62, owning the same wealth as the poorest half of the population.
Among the eight billionaires from this year’s research is Bill Gates, who tops the list, and Warren Buffett, the world’s third-richest man.
Both have pledged to eventually give away most of their wealth, but the charity said cases of individual largesse do not replace the need for a fairer tax system.
Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring said: “This year’s snapshot of inequality is clearer, more accurate and more shocking than ever before.
“It is beyond grotesque that a group of men who could fit in a single golf buggy own more than the poorest half of humanity.
“While one in nine people on the planet will go to bed hungry tonight a small handful of billionaires have so much wealth they would need several lifetimes to spend it.
“The fact that a super-rich elite are able to prosper at the expense of the rest of us at home and overseas shows how warped our economy has become.
“Inequality is not only keeping millions of people trapped in poverty, it is fracturing our societies and poisoning our politics.”
Oxfam’s study is based on the Forbes billionaires list and Credit Suisse global wealth distribution data.