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Monday, January 20, 2014

Report: World’s Richest 85 Hold Same Wealth As Poorest 3.5 Billion

A slum community in Lucknow, India. (Tom Pietrasik/Oxfam)

A slum community in Lucknow, India. (Tom Pietrasik/Oxfam)

Income inequality has been in national headlines for weeks, but a new report out today from the Britain-based international charity Oxfam says it’s a major issue worldwide.

The report found “The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world,” and concludes “This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.”

Roben Farzad of Bloomberg Businessweek joins Here & Now’s Meghna Chakrabarti to discuss the new report.

Correction: In our interview, it was stated that the Oxfam report found that the world’s richest 85 people own $110 trillion. That’s not correct. The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. We regret the error.

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  • PoliticsWatcher

    Republicicans think this isn’t skewed enough. Gotta punish the poor more!

  • Mike

    I think it’s the purpose of every government to have a progressive income tax to flatten out wealth distribution. One of the reasons is to stimulate the economy.

    Some people are clever: they know how to make and accumulate wealth. And so they create growing businesses (makes jobs, innovate technology, etc) . But when they get to be super wealthy, they stop creating because they have gigantic incomes– so why work? A truly progressive income tax would reduce their incomes and make them “hungry” for “more”, returning them to the work force. Isn’t that what conservatives have said about people on welfare and unemployment comp: reduce their income and they’ll go back to work.

  • foxy9795

    This statistic is simply mind-boggling. How can that fail to get
    people’s attention? This is why people need to stop listening to
    right-wing suckups like David Brooks, who is trying his darndest to
    minimize the problem of income disparity and spreading a bunch of
    untruths.

  • Frog

    The 85 richest people have a combined wealth of $110 Trillion? Thats an average of 1.3 trillion per rich person. Who are these trillionaires? Bill Gates only has 67 Billion. Forbes richest man Carlos Slim only has 73 Billion. Throw in the Kochs the Walton family and you still don’t get to half a trillion. The math doesn’t work. They must be including socialist dictators and Kings.

    • Frog

      The entire House of Saud royal family wealth is only estimated at 1.4 trillion. I guess if you consider them one person that gives us one of the 85 trillionaires. Only 84 more to go.

      • Frog

        “CHAKRABARTI: So what are we talking about in terms of a dollar value that these 85 people supposedly hold? Is it a hundred trillion dollars? What is it?

        FARZAD: A 110 trillion dollars. To just give you an idea, the U.S. stock market, the S&P 500, the Standard and Poor’s 500 index, these massive multinationals, when you put their capitalization together, you’re talking about 15 to 17 trillion dollars. So that is a tremendous, almost obscene amount of money to be concentrated in the hands of, I guess, enough people that you could put on a double-decker bus, which is what Oxfam illustrated.”

        That is not true. The Oxfam report says the TOP 1% own 110 trillion not 85 people. No wonder the math didn’t work. Did Farzad or Chakrabarti even read the report? Read the report. They are conflating two different statistics. Double-decker bus? Nice inflammatory analogy but just bad reporting.

    • Rachel Rohr, Here & Now

      Hi Frog, Thanks for catching that. I see 2 of the Oxfam findings were indeed conflated in the interview. (1. “The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.” and 2. “The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.”) I just added a correction to the story above. Best, RR/Web Producer

      • Frog

        I appreciate you checking and clarifying.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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