If billionaires keep gaining wealth at their current pace, the world could see its first U.S.-dollar trillionaire in the next 25 years, according to a report by Oxfam International.
The report, which was released Monday ahead of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, suggests that cronyism, tax dodging and shareholder capitalism are contributing to the global inequality crisis by making the rich significantly richer.
The world's wealthiest person at present is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, with a fortune of $75 billion. For Gates to become the world's first trillionaire — meaning wealth of at least a thousand billion dollars — his fortune would have to grow 13-fold.
"Once a fortune is accumulated or acquired it develops a momentum of its own. The super-rich have the money to spend on the best investment advice," reads the report, titled “An Economy for the 99 Percent: It’s Time to Build a Human Economy That Benefits Everyone, Not Just the Privileged Few."
"Once a fortune is accumulated or acquired it develops a momentum of its own."
"In such an environment, if you are already rich you have to try hard not to keep getting a lot richer."
It adds that if the economy had grown proportionally between 1990 and 2010, rather than primarily benefitting the world's richest, "700 million more people, most of them women, would not be living in poverty today."
The world's eight wealthiest people are now as rich as the poorest half of the world's population, according to the report.
When Bill Gates left Microsoft in 2006, his net worth was US$50 billion. Now, that's risen to US$75 billion, despite his "commendable efforts" to give his money away, according to Oxfam. (Photo: Reuters)
The organization's findings were compiled by looking at wealth distribution data from Credit Suisse and the Forbes Billionaires List.
OxFam is calling on world leaders to commit to reducing the gap between rich and poor in their countries.
The report states, " we can create a fairer world based on a more human economy – one in which people, not profit, are the bottom line and which prioritizes the most vulnerable."