Pandemic woes: World's ten richest men double their fortunes while incomes for the other 99 percent fall

Pandemic woes: World's ten richest men double their fortunes while incomes for the other 99 percent fall
Oxfam warned that inequalities are rising at unprecedented rates following the pandemic, and called for a tax on top fortunes.
2 min read
17 January, 2022
Billionaires in the Middle East, which hosts some of the largest fortunes on Earth, saw their wealth increase by 23 percent during the pandemic [Getty]

Billionaires in the Middle East and North Africa saw their wealth increase by 23 percent during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the bottom 90 percent of the region's population became poorer, a new report released today by the UK-based humanitarian organisation Oxfam revealed.

The world's ten richest men saw their fortunes double during the pandemic, while 99 percent of people saw their incomes shrink. Over 160 million more people have been forced into poverty due to economic woes during the pandemic.

"Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic," Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher stated. "Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom (...) The result is that every kind of inequality imaginable risks rising."

The three richest people in the Middle East, which is already the most unequal region in the world, now own more wealth ($26.3 billion) than the bottom 222.5 million MENA citizens, according to the report.

The non-profit called on world leaders to implement taxes on top fortunes to "get that money back into the real economy", Bucher said.

The report found that an annual wealth tax applied to the wealth of multimillionaires and billionaires in the Arab World would generate $79.3 billion a year, enough to increase public health spending across the region by half.

Billionaires' wealth has risen more over the past two years than in the last 14 years combined. 

According to Forbes, the 10 richest people on earth include Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault & family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.