Number of billionaires doubled since economic crisis: Oxfam report

31 October 2014

Even during the five years following the economic meltdown  the super rich continued to grow richer, widening the gap with the very poor according to a new Oxfam report.

Oxfam has called for action, to address the ever widening wealth gap, which it said was creating serious economic instability.

According to Paul O'Brien of Oxfamamerica, first tax loop holes that seriously wealthy and corporations used needed to be plugged.

Secondly, protection of natural resources in countries that had them was urgently needed. He added, money needed to stay there so it could build healthy economies.

And, thirdly, there was a need to raise the minimum wage.

The new report from Oxfam, entitled 'Even it Up', reveals:

The last four years saw the total wealth of today's billionaires increase by 124 per cent in to around $5.4 trillion.

Since the economic crisis, the number of billionaires had doubled to number 1,645 people.

Around 23 million lives were saved by the money from a tax of just 1.5 per cent on the world's billionaires, several years ago.

Rising inequality could set the fight against poverty back by decades, Oxfam warned.

According to the report, Even it Up: Time to End Extreme Inequality, the richest people in the world had more money than they could ever spend while hundreds of millions lived in abject poverty without essential health care or basic education.

Countries across the world were not seeing prosperity trickle down to ordinary people, but up to those at the top, whose exceptional wealth was growing ever more rapidly.

The richest 85 people who according to Oxfam, in January had the same wealth as the poorest half of the world's population – saw their collective wealth increase by $668 million per day between 2013 and 2014, which was almost half a million dollars every minute.

While there was a growing consensus that inequality was a crucial challenge of our time and that failure was both economically and socially damaging, there had been little action to address the issue.

The report, endorsed by Graça Machel, Kofi Annan and Joseph Stiglitz and many others, seeks to set the stage for a new Oxfam campaign, also called Even it Up, to pressure world leaders to turn rhetoric into reality and ensure a fairer deal for the poorest people.

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