“Higher wealth tends to be associated with capture of government and state institutions by the elite,” Francisco Ferreira, director of the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics (LSE) said. This, he said, can take different forms in different democratic contexts. But the result is the same. “The bargaining power of the rich increases due to various tools they use such as lobbying,” he said. “Policies end up benefitting the wealthy and that again creates a cycle. But, this time, it’s a political cycle.”
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, 131 billionaires more than doubled their net worth during the pandemic.
The world’s richest person, Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, was worth $159bn on December 27, 2022, up by around $60bn compared with early 2020.
Elon Musk, the planet’s second-wealthiest man, boasted a $139bn fortune — it was less than $50bn before the pandemic.
And India’s Gautam Adani, third on the index, has seen his wealth increase more than tenfold in this period, from approximately $10bn at the start of 2020 to $110bn at the end of 2022.
At the same time, close to 97 million people — more than the population of any European nation — were pushed into extreme poverty in just 2020, earning less than $1.90 a day (the World Bank-defined poverty line).
The global poverty rate is estimated to have gone up from 7.8 percent to 9.1 percent by late 2021.
Now, skyrocketing inflation is affecting real wage growth, eating into the disposable incomes of people around the world.
Billionaires saw their fortunes increase as much in 24 months as they did in 23 years, according to Oxfam’s “Profiting from Pain” report released in May this year. Every 30 hours, while COVID-19 and rising food prices are pushing nearly one million more people into extreme poverty, the global economy is also spawning a new billionaire.