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8 men own half the world’s wealth: Oxfam

Eight men own the same wealth as half the world’s population, a level of inequal­ity which “threatens to pull our societies apart”, Oxfam said today ahead of the World Economic Forum opening in Davos.

The wealth of the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people is the equivalent to the com­bined net worth of six Amer­ican businessmen, one from Spain and another from Mex­ico.

Picked from Forbes’ billion­aires list, they include Micro­soft founder Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg who co-founded Facebook, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

Oxfam pointed to a link be­tween the vast gap between rich and poor and growing discontent with mainstream politics around the world.

“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presiden­tial campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with main­stream politics, there are in­creasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” Oxfam said in its new report, “An economy for the 99 percent”.

The charity said new data on wealth distribution from coun­tries such as India and China had prompted it to revise its own calculation, having said a year ago the wealth of half the world’s population was in the hands of 62 people.

Inequality will be among the issues topping the agen­da as the world’s political and business elite meet in Davos from Tuesday until Friday, when 3,000 people will gather for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

“Responsive and responsi­ble leadership” has been cho­sen as the theme of the sum­mit, which organisers said was a response to a “back­lash against globalisation leading to two surprising vote results and a rise in populism in the West”.

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