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Inequality Inc.

Since 2020, the five richest men in the world have doubled their wealth - while five billion people have become poorer.

The beginning of the 2020s has been marked by polarization and widening gaps, where a few individuals have extreme wealth, while the vast majority are increasingly struggling and far too many are struggling to survive from day to day.. According to calculations in Oxfam's new report Inequality Inc.. the world will have its first dollar billionaire within 10 years, methenbut it will take 229 years to eradicate world poverty. Oxfam wants to see taxation of the richest individuals, a more even distribution of corporate profits and improved statistics on inequality.

 

→ While five billion people have become poorer, the five richest men have doubled their wealth

The pandemic, inflation and wars have made the 2020s a tough start for most people. For 800 million workers around the world, wages have not kept up with inflation. Ordinary people are struggling to pay their electricity bills, food and transportation. For those already living in poverty, the situation has become even more serious - inequality between the global North and South has increased for the first time in 25 years. 

 

Since 2020, 99% of the Swedish population has become poorer - while the three richest Swedes have increased their wealth by 29%.

Inequality is also evident in Sweden: the five richest Swedes own more than 60 percent of Sweden's land.s population combined. Oxfam has shown in previous reports that Sweden's tax policy is failing to combat economic inequality and that Swedish workers are losing several percent of their wages while CEOs have increased their real wages. Over the past year, there have been continued reports of a tougher everyday life for many, most recently that evictions of families with children is increasing and is at the same level as during the financial crisis in 2008..

 

→ 82% of the largest companies' extraordinary profits have gone to already wealthy shareholders - while the wages of 800 million people have not kept up with inflation.

Several major industries, such as food, energy and medicine, have made record profits during the pandemic and inflation. During the pandemic, medical companies were able to receive taxpayers' money to develop vaccines, but most of the profits have gone back to already wealthy shareholders - while ordinary people have had to endure inflation. Food giant ICA has never before paid such large dividends as it did in 2022, and ICA retailers have been reported to raise prices on goods even though the purchase price has not increased. Both the IMF and the European Central Bank say that excessive corporate profits have pushed up inflation.

"The wealth of a few individuals leads to a huge concentration of power. Rich business leaders make huge profits while ordinary people struggle with higher costs due to pandemics, inflation and wars. They influence people's wages and living standards, the food we can afford and the medicines we can access, and their lifestyles and investments fuel the climate crisis."

Suzanne Standfast, Secretary General Oxfam Sweden

"Sweden stands out in new Oxfam report" - but where are the Swedish figures?

Several news media have reported that the five richest Swedes together own more than five million Swedes do together. This is a figure calculated by Oxfam, but not included in the global report.

For the Swedish figures, Oxfam has used the same sources as for the global figures.

The figures for the five richest Swedes' fortunes come from the Forbes real-time billionaires list as of November 30, 2023, and total USD 55.5 billion:
1. Stefan Persson, 18.5 billion USD
2. Antonia Ax:son Johnson and family, USD 9.6 billion
3. Jörn Rausing, USD 8.8 billion
4. Kirsten Rausing, USD 8.8 billion
5. Finn Rausing, USD 8.8 billion

Based on the UBS Global Wealth Report 2023, Oxfam has estimated the wealth of 60% of the Swedish population at USD 43.2 billion in 2022.

Set up for the richest

Over the past 40 years, governments around the world have dismantled the tax system in favor of the richest. Since the 1980s, corporate taxes have more than halved in OECD countries. In the same period, some of the largest companies in the world have made record profits.

As if that wasn't enough, huge amounts of money disappear in tax evasion, tax havens and aggressive tax planning. Around USD 1 trillion (1 million million) disappeared into tax havens in 2022. Only 4% of the 1600 largest companies meet the World Benchmarking Alliance's responsible tax indicator.

Power to govern society

Today we see more and more oligopolies, where a few large players control entire markets. In two decades, 60 pharmaceutical companies have become 10 and only 2 companies own 40% of the global seed market. The aim is often to maximize profits for shareholders - but the consequences are many.

When competition is eliminated, a few large companies can control wages, the medicine we get, the food we eat and can afford. When there are few alternatives, companies can increase the prices of essential goods without consequence. Both the IMF and the European Central Bank say that excessive corporate profits have driven up inflation.

"Now we don't live, we just survive"

Rosa is a mother of two children living in Spain. She uses four different apps on her mobile phone to compare food prices. Otherwise, she can't afford it.

"Now we don't live, we just survive. We pay, we eat what we can, but it's not life. I don't know when I became poor, all my life I have been convinced that I am middle class. With the apps, I calculate how much I can spend, whether I can buy potatoes or not this month. I can no longer afford certain fruits - when did this happen?"

Reports

Ineqality Inc - How corporate power divides our world and the need for a new era of public action

Inequality Inc.

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English summary

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Methodology

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Inequality = climate disaster

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There is hope

An equal future for all is possible

It does not have to be this way. Inequality and gaps are a pure political failure. Politics allow a few rich individuals to through their companies control wagesand food prices, and to fuel the climate crisis through their lifestyles and investments. But the good news is that political decisions can also reverse the trend.

 

Oxfam Sweden wants to see:

→ Improved statistics

Ahe governmentan annually produce an annual inequality report, mapping inequality and its consequences, as well as analysis and proposals for action. To make this possible, we need better data and greater transparency on the distribution of income and wealth in Sweden.

 

Taxation of the richest individuals and companies

Taxation of the richest individuals and companies, to reduce inequality and generate funding for welfare and equitable climate change mitigation.. Introduce an permanent wealth tax and a temporary tax on extraordinary profits for companies. Implement a permanent increase of level of taxation on income for the richest richest percent. The tax shall relate to income from work and capital and have a higher level of taxation for multi-billionaires.

 

More equitable distribution of corporate profits

Companies should ensure reasonable living wages and secure conditions for their employees before profits to owners.

 

"This is a dangerous and unsustainable trend, and world leaders must act to address this extreme inequality. A more equal world is possible if governments effectively regulate and transform the private sector, and redistribute the power of billionaires and corporations back to ordinary people."

Suzanne Standfast, Secretary General Oxfam Sweden

Questions & answers

The World Bank, IMF and UN have sounded the alarm about high levels of inequality and that progress in eliminating poverty has stalled since 2020. For example, the World Bank has confirmed that the number of people living on less than USD 5.5 a day is higher now compared to 2019, and that the gap between the rich world and the Global South is growing for the first time in 25 years.

Although extreme poverty is decreasing again after a sharp increase during COVID-19, this is not the case for the poorest countries. If you look at poverty, and not just extreme poverty, using the World Bank poverty line of $5.5 a day, there are more poor people now than in 2019. This reflects what Oxfam sees in our work across the world. The world has almost certainly missed the target of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030. and at the current rate, poverty will not be eradicated for another 229 years. This is not alarmism or cherry picking, but a realistic picture of where we are in 2024.

The whole Oxfam's message of the report is that this decade, since 2020, is a sharp break from previous years in terms of many things. En of those things is that we do not believer in that poverty will continue to decline at the rate it has done in recent decades.a. Vi believe that our calculation is realistic - given the extraordinary crisis years that we have already seen during this decade with pandemics, soaring food and energy prices, wars and many nations in the Global South. Global South with huge debts and facing bankruptcy. It is also the World Bank, UNITED NATIONS:s and others.

On average, the 5 billion poorest people in the world experienced a 0.2% reduction in assets.

Oxfam used the figures from the UBS Global Wealth Report 2023, which is divided into deciles, every 10 percent. The bottom 70% did not see their wealth decrease, but the bottom 60% did, and the bottom 50% even more. We have therefore chosen to cut the figures from the bottom 60% to show how many people saw a reduction in their assets. It is therefore natural that the average decrease is small for the 60% because that's where the difference starts between those who had increased assets and those who had decreased assets.

This year's report focuses on Oxfam on the the five richest, but billionaires as a group have also seen huge gains since 2020. There are ares four times as many dollarmillionaires in the world as there were at the turn of the centuryand according to UBS Global Wealth Report it is expected that huge increases in the number of millionaires and billionaires are expected in the coming years. Even though many people lost money at the beginning of the pandemic and the economic crisis, the wealthiest people have increased their wealth, even compared to 2019 before the pandemic.

Absolutely not, we want to see successful companies - but our understanding of success is not how much a company can enrich a handful of shareholders but how well it contributes to the common good/pays decent wages and protects the environment.. The economy, and more importantly millions of ordinary people, do not need the excessive pursuit of profits that we have seen from companies in recent years. For example, corporate profiteering is something that significantly has significantly pushed up then inflation we have seen, according to the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Oxfam has no problem with rich people per se. However, extreme wealth is a symptom of a broken economic system. Extreme wealth causes a society with a huge concentration of power in the hands of a few. When individuals are richer than countries, democracy risks being undermined, which should worry anyone who cares about free, democratic societies. The extreme inequality between rich and poor undermines the fight against poverty, damages economies and creates public frustration. Unequal societies create social unrest, political instability, crime and violence. In addition, the richest people emit by far the most carbon dioxide and fuel the climate crisis with their investments and lifestyles.

Nor are we alone in recognizing the problem of inequality. In addition to the World Bank, the IMF and the UN, a recent survey of over 2300 millionaires and billionaires shows that 74% are in favor of increased taxation of wealthy individuals, with the proceeds going towards improving welfare and addressing the cost of living crisis. As many of them say themselves, they would be proud to pay more tax - not least to reduce inequality.

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