Billionaire fortunes grew 12 percent in 2018 as world's poorest got 11 percent poorer: Oxfam

Billionaire fortunes grew by about $2.5 billion each day last year.

January 21, 2019, 3:06 AM

In 2018, billionaire fortunes grew by 12 percent -- about $2.5 billion every day -- as the world's 3.8 billion poorest people lost about 11 percent of their wealth, according to a report by Oxfam launched to coincide with this year's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The number of billionaires has doubled since the financial crisis a decade ago, according to the report, with a millionaire becoming a billionaire roughly every other day.

"The last ten years clearly shows that we have learned nothing," Paul O'Brien, Oxfam America's vice president for policy and campaigns, said in a Jan. 20 statement. "While corporations and the super-rich enjoy the lowest tax bills, millions of girls around the world have no access to a decent education and women are dying due to a lack of maternity care."

Oxfam, which spans more than 90 countries and is dedicated to ending world poverty, according to the organization's website, has estimated that raising taxes by 0.5 percent on the world's richest 1 percent of earners would generate $418 billion annually that could go toward education and healthcare, ultimately saving more than 3 million people.

"The 2017 US tax bill is super-charging the worldwide tax race to the bottom and exacerbating the trend of governments dramatically cutting tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations around the world," Oxfam said the statement. "The top rate of personal income tax in rich countries fell from 62 percent in 1970 to just 38 percent in 2013. The average rate in poor countries is just 28 percent. ... The corporate tax rate has been similarly slashed around the world over the past decades, with some countries now mulling over further cuts in response to the US move to do so."

O'Brien called the United States' latest tax law "a master class on how to favor massive corporations and the richest citizens" because it "rewards US companies that have trillions stashed offshore, encourages US companies to dodge foreign taxes on their foreign profits, and fuels a global race to the bottom that benefits big business and wealthy individuals at the expense of poor people everywhere."

Every day, Oxfam reported, about 10,000 people die because they can't access affordable healthcare.

"The only winners in the race to the bottom on corporate tax are the wealthiest among us," O'Brien added. "Now is the time to work towards a new set of tax rules that work for the many, not the few."