Wednesday, January 22, 2014

85 People Own Half of the World

A study from Oxfam reveals a mere 85 people own nearly half the assets of our planet. And that means it takes combining the assets of 3.5 billion people to match what those 85 have. It's not the result of a "free market", says Oxfam. It's a calculated effort of corruption.

"The Oxfam report found that over the past few decades, the rich have successfully wielded political influence to skew policies in their favour on issues ranging from financial deregulation, tax havens, anti-competitive business practices to lower tax rates on high incomes and cuts in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, said the report. This "capture of opportunities" by the rich at the expense of the poor and middle classes has led to a situation where 70% of the world's population live in countries where inequality has increased since the 1980s and 1% of families own 46% of global wealth - almost £70tn."
A  confession of sorts from a former hedge-fund manager published this week in the NYTimes blames "wealth addiction".

"The story starts 40 years ago when most of the economic profession made the argument that deregulated markets could solve all our problems by creating more and more wealth for society. By cutting taxes on the rich, there would be more incentive to create new enterprises and jobs, and higher incomes would then flow to all—all boats would rise. By getting government out of the economy, business would be free to innovate and grow.
This push for massive tax cuts and deregulation, however, unleashed Wall Street much more than it did the “real” economy —the part that produces tangible goods and services. In fact, it led to the destruction of much of American manufacturing as financiers (corporate raiders; private equity firms like Mitt Romney’s) hollowed out corporation after corporation, loading each up with debt, and then squeezing its workforce as much as possible, including replacing it entirely by shifting the facility overseas.
Instead the “innovation” took the form of junk bonds, offshore accounts, high-risk mortgages, derivatives, CDOs and a myriad of financial tricks that step by step moved money away from productive industry and shoved into the pockets of Wall Street."