Economic inequality is rising, and fast. The consequences could be catastrophic — politically, economically and socially.

SINGAPORE (Jan 28): The juxtaposition had its effect. As the rich, famous and powerful gathered on the snowy slopes of the exclusive ski town of Davos in the Swiss Alps for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), British charity Oxfam released its damning take on the state of the global economy — that just 26 of the world’s richest people, some of whom have been at Davos in past years, held as much money or assets as the poorest half of the rest of the world, or 3.8 billion people. By Oxfam’s estimates, Jeff Bezos, founder of tech giant Amazon.com and the world’s richest man, need only donate 1% of his net worth of US$130 billion ($177 billion) to take care of the healthcare budget for the 105 million people of Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world.

Oxfam also noted that last year saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history, one every two days. And, as the rich got richer, the poor became even poorer: The report noted that while the wealth of billionaires around the world grew by US$2.5 billion every day in 2018, the poorest 3.8 billion people saw what they already had decline by 11%.

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