World’s Richest Shake Off Crisis in Record Setback to Inequality

(Bloomberg) -- The world is witnessing the greatest rise in inequality on record, with the poorest likely to feel the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic for years to come while the “mega rich” have already bounced back, according to Oxfam.

That’s the conclusion from a report by the charity, which charts the wealth effects of the deepest slump since the Global Financial Crisis as widespread shutdowns of businesses lead to rising unemployment.

“The pandemic has hurt people living in poverty far harder than the rich, and has had particularly severe impacts on women, Black people, Afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, and historically marginalized and oppressed communities around the world,” Oxfam said on Monday. “It is likely that almost every country will see an increase in inequality, the first time since records began.”

The report follows in the footsteps of similar analysis by the World Bank, which has warned that the economic crisis is sending a new generation into poverty and debt turmoil. The International Monetary Fund has warned that developing nations may be set back by a decade.

Oxfam is urging governments to do more to address inequality, including making tax policies more equitable and canceling developing countries’ debts.

The study -- entitled ‘The Inequality Virus’ -- is being published in tandem with the World Economic Forum’s virtual conference, at which politicians and business executives are set to discuss the state of the global economy.

Usually held in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, the event has been criticized for being a place for the rich and famous to rub shoulders while paying only lip service to the need for equality and social change. For its part, the WEF has urged governments to make society more resilient, inclusive and sustainable.

“The 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months,” Oxfam said. “But it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover.”