The big increase in the fortunes of the ultra-wealthy comes as billions of poorer people across the world have seen their wealth standstill or decline. The gap between the very rich and everyone else has widened to the biggest it has been in a century.
The globe’s 500 richest people, have seen the value of the wealth increase by 23% so far this year, taking their combined fortunes to $5.3tn.
The increase is largely the result of booming stock markets. The MSCI World Index and the US Standard & Poor’s 500 are both up almost 20% so far this year. The UK’s FTSE 100 is up more than 6% – and hit a record high of 7,618 points on Wednesday.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the world’s richest man. His fortune has increased by $34.2bn so far this year to take his “net worth” to $99.6bn. On just one day in October Bezos’s fortune increased by $10.3bn. The Amazon founder’s fortune is $8.3bn larger than that of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man. Warren Buffett is the world’s third richest person with a $85bn fortune.
Collectively, the world’s five richest people – Bezos, Gates, Buffett, Amancio Ortega, the owner of Zara, and Facebook’s Zuckerberg – hold $425bn of assets. That is equivalent to one-sixth of the UK’s GDP.
A report by Credit Suisse found that the world’s richest 1% people have seen their share of the globe’s total wealth increase from 42.5% at the height of the 2008 financial crisis to 50.1% in 2017, or $140tn.
Millionaires account for 0.7% of the world’s adult population – control 46% of total global wealth that now stands at $280tn.
At the other end of the spectrum, the world’s 3.5 billion poorest adults each have assets of less than $10,000 (£7,600). Collectively these people, who account for 70% of the world’s working age population, account for just 2.7% of global wealth.