COVID-19 pandemic increases wealth inequity, study shows

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — The coronavirus pandemic brought economic hardship to people around the globe — but it also created over 500 new billionaires.

A new study by Oxfam International showed a new billionaire was made every day so far during COVID-19, with almost 500 people joining a worldwide list of them since 2020.

That brings the total number of billionaires to 2,668. And some who were already billionaires saw their wealth grow even more, seeing their net worth soar 42% during the pandemic.

The majority of those new billionaires were from the food and agribusiness sector as well as the oil, gas and coal sectors. The pharmaceutical industry also got some new billionaires of its own — 40 — as stock surged for the makers of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

Oxfam’s report noted that these are corporations where monopolies are especially common.

Now, the total wealth of the world’s billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9 percent of the global GDP, up from 4.4% in 2000.

As some are getting richer, however, COVID-19 and rising food and gas prices could push as many as 263 million people into extreme poverty this year. That’s one million people every 33 hours.

“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes. The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,” Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International said in a statement.

Bucher went on to say that his kind of inequality kills, as millions skip meals, turn off their heat, fall behind on bills and wonder how they’re going to survive.

“Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity,” she said. “It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous.” 

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