According to Forbes, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon with an estimated fortune of $98bn, has recently overtaken Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man. It seems we have reached the point where there are people in the world richer than we are capable of imagining.
Amazon’s share price has risen five-fold in as many years. If it continues at anything like this rate, Bezos, still only 53 years old, can expect to be worth hundreds of billions over the next decade. Indeed, the prospect of the world’s first-ever trillionaire is now a serious possibility. A trillion by American reckoning is a thousand billion dollars, or roughly the GDP of Mexico. Not so long ago, a trillionaire would have seemed almost as improbable and many were unconvinced when Oxfam speculated in January that it could happen within the next 25 years. But the last 12 months alone have seen the German, US and UK stock markets all hit record levels, along with robust economic growth and a resurgence in oil and commodities values. Already, on the basis of its market capitalisation, Apple is close to becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company, and all this is before Donald Trump’s fiscal reforms take effect, slashing tax rates for the very wealthiest.
According to the newly-published World Inequality Report, this increase in wealth accumulation by the most prosperous is part of a longer-term trend: since 1980, the richest 0.1% of the global population increased its combined wealth by as much as the bottom 50%.
Meantime, several of Britain’s best-known companies, including Burberry, Sky and Sports Direct, are included on a list ordered by the prime minister of firms rewarding bosses with “fat cat pay” and representing the “unacceptable face of capitalism”. Others on the list include banking giant HSBC, supermarket Morrisons, BT, estate agent Foxtons, the AA and Mothercare.More than a fifth of Britain’s FTSE listed-firms are included on the “name and shame” register of companies that Theresa May said risk damaging “the social fabric of our country” by paying bosses too much money.