Sunday, February 25

Almost 600 new billionaires have emerged since the pandemic

A poor man begs for alms on Fifth Avenue in New York. / ARCHIVE

Oxfam denounces that by the end of this year there will be 263 million more people in extreme poverty


Since the ovid-19 pandemic broke out, 573 new billionaires have emerged, which is a new billionaire every 30 hours. On the contrary, by the end of this year there will be 263 million more people submerged in extreme poverty: one million more people every 33 hours, according to the complaint made by Oxfam Intermón in a new report published this Monday on the occasion of the meeting of the World Economic Forum.

The number of Spanish billionaires on the Forbes list has also increased since the start of the pandemic: there are four new billionaires, while the wealth of those who were already billionaires before the pandemic has grown at a rate of 6.8 million euros per year. day.

“For billionaires, the pandemic, as well as the conflict in Ukraine and the spectacular increase in food and energy prices, are assuming a period of prosperity. And this reality contrasts with a clear setback in the achievements of recent decades in the fight against extreme poverty at a global level,” said Iñigo Macías, head of research at Oxfam Intermón.

The total wealth currently accumulated by these billionaires around the world is already equivalent to 13.9% of world GDP, which means that it has tripled since 2000, when it was 4.4%.

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“The fortunes of these billionaires have not grown so much and so fast in such a short time because they now work harder or are more productive. They control and invest in corporations that have taken advantage of their growing market power and deregulation, in many cases violating the rights of working people while some hide their money in tax havens. All this with the complicity of the Governments, “said Macías.

From Sri Lanka to Sudan to Peru, escalating food and energy prices are causing strong social and political tensions. This NGO indicates that almost 60% of low-income countries are on the verge of bankruptcy, unable to meet the payment of their public debt. In relation to the most advanced economies, the population of poor countries spends more than double their income on buying food. If inflation rises everywhere, the effect is especially devastating for low-wage workers, who have also become much more exposed and vulnerable to the pandemic. And it has been even more so for women, people of color and who live in situations of exclusion.

Companies with great profits

The new study by Oxfam Intermón also reveals that at a global level, companies in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors are making unprecedented profits, despite the fact that the wages of workers have hardly increased and they have to deal with the biggest rise in prices in decades.

Specifically, five of the major energy companies (BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron) made $2,600 in profits per second last year. At the same time, the fortunes of billionaires in the food and energy sectors have increased by $453 billion in the last two years, which equates to $1 billion every two days. In the food sector, 62 new billionaires have emerged in this same period.

On the other hand, in the pharmaceutical sector, there are 40 new billionaires since the beginning of the pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies like Moderna and Pfizer are earning $1,000 in profits every second thanks exclusively to their monopoly on the covid-19 vaccine, despite receiving billions of dollars in public investment for its development, Oxfam denounces.

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