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Global inequality and devastation

Global inequality and devastation

By Silvia Ribeiro *

In October 2014, the Credit Suisse bank published a report on world wealth, highlighting concerns about the levels of inequality that continue to grow, which it considers a risk factor.

World wealth went from $ 117 billion in 2000 to $ 262 billion in 2014. The richest 1 percent of the world's population now holds almost half of global wealth (48.5 percent).

At the same time, 50 percent of the poorest population have less than 1 percent of the income and of these, 90 percent live in countries of the South. If these figures are difficult to digest, it is almost even more difficult to know that 70 percent of the world's population collectively have less than 3 percent of the income!

The region with the highest inequality index in the world is Latin America and the Caribbean, despite the fact that in recent years, some countries, such as Uruguay and Venezuela, have contributed to lower the continental average. Mexico and Chile are the countries with the highest inequality of all the members of the OECD, and make up the 10 most unequal in the region, along with Honduras, Brazil and Colombia, among others.

In the last year, the number of billionaires in the region increased 38 percent. Global inequality grew particularly in the last three decades, but the gap widened after the crises of 2007-2008. According to Credit Suisse, the countries where inequality increased the most are China and India, where some of the largest fortunes and corporations on the planet now reside. The United States continues to be the country that, by far, concentrates the most income.


There are 49 percent of the so-called ultra-rich individuals, with a fortune greater than 50 million dollars. Those are not the ones who suffered from the financial crisis that they themselves caused. In contrast, the richest 1 percent of the United States captured 95 percent of post-2009 growth and gains, while 90 percent of the population became poorer. And this without taking into account the huge sums of public money that were spent to "rescue" financial institutions in crisis, of which those same rich are fully or partially owners.

On top of these analyzes, it is necessary to superimpose the huge corporate concentration that took flight in the 1990s, in which business mergers and acquisitions grew 757 percent and continued to increase, albeit slower, until 2007.

With the financial, economic and food crises of 2007-2008, the percentage of mergers and acquisitions fell, but the already established business concentration never fell again from the level reached in 2000, and even rose in some years of the 21st century.

According to the study published in 2011 The network of Global Corporate Control by researchers Vitali, Glattfelder and Battiston, 1,328 transnational corporations have 60 percent of global income and are interconnected with each other, by 2 or more mutual relationships, with an average of 20 interconnections. In this web of relationships that have the world trapped, the study identified a corporate “super-entity”, like a spider on the web, made up of 147 corporations that hold 40 percent of the income of all transnational corporations and that have a enormous decision-making power over the entire global corporate network.

Three-quarters of these are financial institutions, which in turn are closely linked with the largest transnationals in key sectors of the economy, such as energy, petrochemicals and chemicals, communications, construction, mining, food and agriculture, etc.

It is the profit interests of this extraordinarily tiny minority of the rich, those that shape national and international regulations to maintain their privileges, those that push the industrial models of mass production and consumption, and those responsible for the social and environmental devastation and planetary crises. .

Just one example: only 90 companies, mostly private, oil, coal, gas and cement are responsible for two-thirds of the gas emissions that have caused climate change. There are many factors that are imposed to maintain inequality, including a large military and repressive apparatus, generally paid for with public funds.

But there are also many and diverse pockets of resistance and collective construction from below, without a doubt what the world continues to make habitable and ultimately the only real alternatives to these new forms of global slavery.

* Silvia Ribeiro is Director for Latin America of Grupo ETC - www.etcgroup.org

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Video: A Look At Income Inequality In The United States. TIME (June 2021).