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While Poorest Scapegoated, Analysis of 25 World's Wealthiest Families a Reminder of Inequality's Economic Drain

Published: August 10, 2019
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Source: Common Dreams

If the world needed yet another example of just how unequal the global economy has become, a new analysis of the top 25 wealthiest family dynasties published Saturday revealed that while one out of ten people in the world live on less than $2.00 per day, these super rich families now control a total of $1.4 trillion in assets and are making as much as $4 million every single hour.

According to Bloomberg, the numbers are "mind-boggling" and include a look at—just to name a few—the fabulous riches of the Walton family, which controls the Walmart fortune, the Mars family, descendants of the candy empire, the Saudi Royal family, and the infamous Koch brothers, the right-wing libertarians who inherited their father's oil, gas, and other holdings.

Notable in the new analysis is not just the size of the massive wealth these families now have, but just how exponentially it has grown, especially compared to others in the economy—both in the last several decades and over the last 12 months.

As Bloomberg points out:

Even in this era of extreme wealth and brutal inequality, the contrast is jarring. The heirs of Sam Walton, Walmart’s notoriously frugal founder, are amassing wealth on a near-unprecedented scale—and they're hardly alone. 

The Walton fortune has swelled by $39 billion, to $191 billion, since topping the June 2018 ranking of the world’s richest families. 

Other American dynasties are close behind in terms of the assets they've accrued. The Mars family, of candy fame, added $37 billion, bringing its fortune to $127 billion. The Kochs, the industrialists-cum-political-power-players, tacked on $26 billion, to $125 billion. 



So it goes around the globe. America’s richest 0.1% today control more wealth than at any time since 1929, but their counterparts in Asia and Europe are gaining too. Worldwide, the 25 richest families now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth, up 24% from last year.

In 2014, the United Nations issued a scathing report which warned that escalating income and wealth disparities across the world was creating economic and political instability. The report, put forth by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), cautioned leaders that if unaddressed the trend of inequality would "undermine the very foundations of development and social and domestic peace."

Earlier this year, Oxfam International also warned that global wealth inequality was "out of control" and urged immediate far-reaching action. "Our economy is broken," the group said at the time. "Hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top. There are more billionaires than ever before, and their fortunes have grown to record levels. Meanwhile, the world's poorest got even poorer."

So while the Trump administration in the United States and other right-wing forces advocating on behalf of the global oligarchy continue to tell workers and struggling families around the world that the threat to them is "immigrants taking their jobs" or "socialists trying to provide better wages and more universal protections"—others pointed to the new Bloomberg analysis as an alternative explanation for why there seems to be less and less for some people in the economy while the ultra-rich continue to amass fortunes at breakneck speed.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this week, an analysis by Dallas Morning News finance columnist Scott Burns found that if current trends continue, the wealthiest Americans "will truly 'have it all' just 33 years from now" as they gobble up a larger and larger share of the overall economic pie.

"However you slice it, the rich have been getting richer. Lots richer," Burns wrote.

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