Oxfam, an organization that works to end poverty, has predicted the world will likely see its first trillionaire within 10 years.
The prediction comes as the world’s wealthiest nations gather in Davos, Switzerland for both public and private meetings. Leaders from more than 60 nations will be discussing issues including ongoing world conflicts, the effects of artificial intelligence (AI) on businesses, climate change and the future of democracy.
Oxfam often points out the huge wealth differences between the world’s richest and poorest. It noted these differences had become “supercharged” since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oxfam noted the five wealthiest people in the world had seen their worth increase by over 100 percent since 2020. They include Elon Musk of Tesla, Bernard Arnault of the luxury goods company LVMH, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett.
Amitabh Behar is Oxfam’s current director. Behar said the world is entering a “decade of division.” The group’s leader noted that while the five wealthiest people had doubled their worth since 2020, “almost 5 billion people have become poorer.”
Behar predicted that in about 10 years, the world will have its first trillionaire. A trillionaire would be a person worth 1,000 billion dollars. Behar noted that the fight against poverty would take much longer, at least 200 years.
The organization said it is possible the person who becomes the first trillionaire is not currently known, meaning the individual may not be one of the five wealthiest people today.
American John D. Rockefeller, of Standard Oil fame, is widely considered to have become the world’s first billionaire in 1916.
Currently, Musk is the richest man on the planet, with a personal worth of just under $250 billion, Oxfam says. The organization makes its estimates based on data from the publication Forbes.
While many of the rich got richer in the last four years, Oxfam says about 5 billion people became poorer during that time. This is because many poor nations could not provide financial support to their people when economies slowed down due to COVID-19.
In addition, high inflation since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine has increased the cost of food and other basic supplies.
While the meeting in Davos only lasts until Friday, Oxfam said it will continue talking about wealth inequalities. This year’s Group of 20 meeting of the world’s most developed countries will be held this July in Brazil. Max Lawson is head of Oxfam’s inequality policy department. He said that meeting will also be a good time to raise awareness about the problem of world poverty.
Oxfam is calling on Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to include poverty problems in the developing world in G20 discussions. The group would like him to bring up issues such as a permanent wealth tax in every nation, stronger taxation of large companies and a campaign against tax avoidance.
Oxfam said it looked at the world’s wealthiest people based on rankings from Forbes in November 2023. For the poorest people, Oxfam looked at numbers from the UBS Global Wealth Report 2023 and the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook of 2019.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by the Associated Press.
Words in This Story
supercharge – v. to make something more powerful or impressive
decade – n. a period of ten years
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