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The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent could overtake that of the other 99 percent by 2016, according to a report by Oxfampublished Monday, as billionaires, politicians and business leaders gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum.
In a study called "Wealth: Having it all and wanting more." the international charity warned that a sharp rise in inequality was holding back the fight against global poverty at a time when 1 in 9 people do not have enough to eat and more than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.
Of the remaining 52 percent of global wealth in 2014, about 46 percentwas owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world's population. The other 80 percent of the world shared around 5.5 percent, according to Oxfam.
Rising inequality has moved into the spotlight in recent years amid concerns that living standards have been hit by slow economic recovery in the wake of the global financial crisis.
In a report published last month, U.K.-based think-tank New Economics Foundation said that rising economic inequality was a major cause of the financial crisis
The banking industry and Republicans have criticized a White House proposal to increase taxes on Wall Street and the wealthy as President Barack Obama steps up efforts to seize the initiative on economic policy.
Seeking to exploit a rising tide of populism in the U.S., he will unveil proposals in his State of the Union address on Tuesday that would pump funds raised from banks and rich families into policies likely to bepopular with the middle class.
Mr Obama aims to raise more than $300 billion by imposing a new levy on the US's largest financial institutions, raising the top rate of capital gains tax to 28 per cent, and closing a loophole that lets wealthy families pass down assets without paying tax.
The funds would pay for initiatives to boost the middle class — such as tax benefits for childcare, college education and retirement for middle class Americans — as the president continues an aggressive run of policy moves likely to shape debate in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The White House said the capital gains and inheritance changes would almost exclusively affect the wealthiest 1 per cent of Americans, and that 80 per cent of the impact would fall on the much narrower 0.1 per cent band, defined as those with annual income of more than $2 million.
But the proposals are unlikely to pass a Congress controlled by Republicans — who say tax rises would slow economic growth — and the details previewed by the White House over the weekend sparked an immediate backlash.
James Ballentine, chief lobbyist at the American Bankers Association, a trade group, said: "This really comes at a difficult time for an industry that is moving the economy forward. To impose a fee, a flat tax, is certainly not warranted, and I hope Congress will reject this idea."