Oxfam hits out at 'extreme wealth'
The world's richest 100 people earned enough last year to end extreme poverty for the world's poorest people four times over, Oxfam has said.
The charity said an "explosion in extreme wealth" was hindering efforts to tackle poverty, in a briefing released ahead of next week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Releasing The Cost Of Inequality: How Wealth And Income Extremes Hurt Us All, Oxfam said the net income last year of the 100 richest people was 240 billion US dollars (£150 billion).
In contrast, people in "extreme poverty" live on less than 1.25 US dollars (78p) per day, and the charity called on world leaders to commit to reducing inequality to levels last seen in 1990.
Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's chief executive, said a "global new deal" was needed to reverse decades of increasing inequality.
She said: "We can no longer pretend the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many - too often the reverse is true. Concentration of resources in the hands of the top 1% depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else - particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder."
Political and economic leaders from around the world will gather for four days at Davos from January 23. Oxfam's briefing pointed out that the World Economic Forum's own Global Risk Report rated inequality as one of the top global risks of 2013, something the IMF agrees with.
Oxfam said world leaders should learn from countries like Brazil, which has "grown rapidly while reducing inequality", and also cited former US president Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
Ms Stocking added: "We need a global new deal to reverse decades of increasing inequality. As a first step world leaders should formally commit themselves to reducing inequality to the levels seen in 1990.
"From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit from a global economic system which is rigged in their favour. It is time our leaders reformed the system so that it works in the interests of the whole of humanity rather than a global elite."