Oxfam Warns of Trillionaire Emergence as Wealth Soars Amid Global Poverty

Oxfam Warns of Trillionaire Emergence as Wealth Soars Amid Global Poverty
Corporate buildings. (Photo: Oxfam)

The wealth of the world’s five richest individuals has soared by an alarming 114 percent since 2020. With Oxfam predicting the emergence of the first-ever trillionaire within the next decade, concerns about rising inequality and the persistence of poverty for 229 years cast a shadow over global economic prospects.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, the world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes from USD 405 billion to USD 869 billion, equivalent to a rate of USD 14 million per hour. Meanwhile, underdeveloped countries grappled with the economic fallout, facing the harsh reality of stagnant economies as the pandemic, inflation, and conflict took their toll.

“We’re witnessing the beginnings of a decade of division, with billions of people shouldering the economic shockwaves of pandemic, inflation and war, while billionaires’ fortunes boom. This inequality is no accident; the billionaire class is ensuring corporations deliver more wealth to them at the expense of everyone else,” said Oxfam International interim Executive Director Amitabh Behar.

In Laos, the economic challenges triggered by the pandemic persist. Despite ongoing efforts by the Lao government, the country still grapples with economic instability and a high trade deficit, reaching around USD 264 million as of November 2023. 

The land-locked nation also faces issues brought on by mega infrastructure projects, which contribute to increased public debt, rising from 52 percent to 112 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 2017-2022.

While some countries on the 12 Least Developed Countries (LDC) list by the United Nations may have done better than others, the overall trend points to a particularly grim outlook. Among those is Laos. 

“Unfortunately, the greed of handful few wealthy has more influence on politics than the needs of 140 million Asians who were pushed into poverty by the pandemic and inflation. The current lack of space for dissent or dialogue is an example of that,” Oxfam Asia Regional Director John Samuel stated.

To bridge the wealth gap, Oxfam calls on governments to take decisive action, emphasizing the revitalization of the state, curbing corporate power by dismantling monopolies, democratizing patent rules, and fostering democratically owned businesses to distribute profits more equitably.

“It is crucial to address the gap between the world’s top one percent, and the rest of the world. At the very least, governments need to “aim for a situation in which inequality is reduced to the point where the bottom 40 percent of the population have around the same income as the richest 10 percent,” John Samuel said.