At a moment when the wealthiest one percent own more money than the rest of the world combined, a new report finds that in 2015 the world's richest people were able to sit back and watch their assets grow by 5.2 percent to a stunning $168 trillion.
"Unless companies here and across the globe rein in executive salaries, pay their fair share of taxes, and invest in decent jobs the yawning gap between the haves and have-nots will continue to grow."
—Paul Nowak, TUCThe annual report (pdf) from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also found that a full eight percent of the world's wealth is currently owned by people worth over $100 million, whom the report defines as "ultra-high net worth individuals."
The report predicts that millionaires—those whose net worth is valued at over $1 million—will hold more than half of the world's private wealth by 2020.
"For all the moral angst being expressed by business leaders and politicians about growing wealth inequality, very little is being done to change the status quo," commented Paul Nowak, general secretary of the UK's umbrella body for trade unions, TUC, to the Guardian. "Unless companies here and across the globe rein in executive salaries, pay their fair share of taxes, and invest in decent jobs the yawning gap between the haves and have-nots will continue to grow."
In North America, a staggering 63 percent of the continent's private wealth is held by millionaires, and by 2020 millionaires are expected to own nearly 70 percent.
Echoing growing outrage over such disparity, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has made combating the rapid rise of wealth inequality in the U.S. a touchstone of his campaign:
The skyrocketing level of income and wealth inequality is not only grotesque and immoral, it is economically unsustainable.
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— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 24, 2015
At the same time, the number of millionaire households grew by 6 percent globally in 2015, according to the report, and by 12 percent in Britain. Nowak told the Guardian, "It says much about current Britain, that at a time when millions are struggling to pay their rent or get a mortgage, others are paying for swimming pools and cinemas to be constructed in the basements of their homes in Chelsea."
Liechtenstein and Switzerland continued to boast the highest concentration of millionaires in the world, with 19 percent and 15 percent of the total population, respectively. "Yet the U.S. still has far and away the largest number of millionaires, with 8 million," CNBC notes. "China ranks second with 2.1 million, followed by Japan with 1.1 million and the United Kingdom with 961,000."
As if increasing their personal assets by millions and billions weren't enough, the world's wealthiest continued to evade paying taxes in 2015, increasing global offshore assets by 3 percent to nearly $10 trillon.
"The top three source countries" for offshore wealth were "the China, the U.S., and the U.K.," the report stated, and Switzerland remained the number one destination for offshore funds.
Observers point to such statistics to argue that today's economy is rigged for the benefit of the wealthiest, at the expense of the global poor.