Food & energy fortunes grew by $453 bln during pandemic, war
Crisis profiteering has exhibited itself brazenly in the last two years.
Food and energy billionaires have raked up profits that grew their fortunes by $453 billion over the past two years, thanks to soaring energy and commodity prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, both of which have sunken the world into an economic crisis.
According to the Oxfam report, the crises have helped create "62 new food billionaires" in no more than two years.
One of the world's largest food corporations (and the US' largest private company), Cargill, now has 12 billionaire family members - four up since the start of the pandemic. The company controls 70% of global agricultural market.
On average, food prices have been up 30% over the past year - this will likely push 263 million more people into acute poverty in comparison with pre-pandemic times. There will be 860 million people living on less than $1.90 a day by the end of 2022. That is the populations of the UK, France, Germany and Spain combined.
The chief executive of Oxfam GB, Danny Sriskandarajah, said “It is morally indefensible that people in east Africa are dying of hunger while the fortunes of the world’s super-rich are fuelled by skyrocketing food and energy prices.
“At a time when hundreds of millions more people are facing extreme poverty, there can be no excuse for governments not to address gargantuan profits and wealth in order to ensure that no one is left behind.”
In a meeting between ultra-rich businessmen at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam called on world leaders to introduce wealth taxes on the exceptionally rich to help tackle “the biggest increase in extreme poverty in over 20 years”.
Governments, according to Oxfam, should follow suit with Argentina, and introduce a "one-off solidarity tax on billionaires' pandemic windfalls." Last year, Argentina raised $1.88 billion from this policy.
Oxfam also called for the introduction of permanent annual wealth taxes to “rein in extreme wealth and monopoly power," which would tax millionaires 2% and billionaires 5%, making $2.5 trillion per year.
According to Oxfam, this would lift 2.3 billion out of poverty, make enough vaccines for everyone on the planet, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone in low and lower-middle-income countries.
Read more: COVID-19 hurts US purchasing power
A windfall tax should also be introduced on all major companies, which would limit "crisis profiteering:" The organization contended that a tax on “just 32 super-profitable multinational companies could have generated $104 billion in revenue in 2020”.
During the pandemic, 573 millionaires became billionaires: The pandemic, according to Oxfam, had been “the best time in recorded history for the billionaire class”.
Billionaires' wealth altogether make $12.7 trillion, according to Forbes - that not only constitutes 13.9% of the world's gross domestic product, but it's also a threefold increase from 2000. The richest 20 billionaires in the world have more money than the entire GDP of sub-Saharan Africa.