Author Archives: odysseyng10

What is shared prosperity, and how do we know if it’s on the rise?

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

What is shared prosperity, and how do we know if it’s on the rise?

This blog post is an adaptation of Nick’s recent article in Global Policy.

The World Bank has chosen an indicator of shared prosperity that’s inadequate, and gives a distorted picture of progress. According to the Bank’s indicator, countries where the poorest forty percent are faring better than the country average are considered to be experiencing shared prosperity. Yet, comparing the poorest to the average masks whether income and wealth are concentrating among the very rich at the top. Given what we know about the dangers of extreme inequality, the Bank’s indicator is not only misleading, but irresponsible. Continue reading

The World Bank is Getting ‘Shared Prosperity’ Wrong: The Bank Should Measure the Tails, Not the Average

Published in Global Policy

*Contact me and I’ll send the full article*

In October, the World Bank released its 2014 Global Monitoring Report (GMR). The annual GMR is a flagship report produced by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that traditionally offers an update on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals. In a bit of a twist, the aim of this year’s report is to assess the World Bank’s broad goal of seeing shared prosperity increase in all countries.1 This is a worthy intention, but how can we measure whether shared prosperity is rising? The indicator developed by the World Bank measures the income (or consumption) growth of the poorest 40 per cent and compares it to the growth of the whole country over a five year period. If the bottom 40 per cent fared better than the whole country, the World Bank declares shared prosperity is on the rise. This year’s GMR calculates data for 86 countries between 2006 and 2011. According to the results, the bottom 40 per cent fared better than the average in 58 of the countries (67 per cent), leading the World Bank to declare shared prosperity is rising globally. Below, I argue for why this is an inadequate indicator. Instead, I recommend the World Bank compare changes in growth between the poorest 40 per cent and richest 10 per cent, or fewer. Continue reading

Extreme Inequality and Oligarchy

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog 

Is the U.S. an oligarchy?

I want to throw out an interesting concept, and discuss how it relates to extreme inequality: Oligarchy. According to Jeffrey Winters, author of this fascinating book that I am reading,  oligarchy refers to the politics of wealth defense by a minority who possess incredibly large fortunes. Oligarchs are actors controlling massive concentrations of material power they can use to defend or enhance their personal wealth. Oligarchs may pursue other political ends, but defending their wealth is their fundamental existential interest.

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Is the world a ‘plutonomy?’

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

Who dominates the global economy – and why that matters for you and me!

I recently saw the word ‘plutonomy’ in the title of an international relations academic article. It’s an intriguing and unfamiliar word, and its definition is causing me to ask some probing questions about our global economic order.

For those uninitiated like me, plutonomy describes an economy where the share of consumption and economic activity by the rich dwarfs everyone else. It’s a system where a small minority control most of the wealth and income, and consume nearly all the goods and services. Some might argue that the U.S., the UK and Canada approximate plutonomies. Continue reading

You can’t have one without the other: Reducing extreme poverty depends on inequality

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

Looking at projections in 10 countries.

For the most part, we anticipate that countries will grow their economies in the coming years. Growth means more financial resources available to reduce extreme poverty by creating jobs, increasing social services, and building stronger safety nets. However, if governments fail to ensure the benefits of growth are shared with the most vulnerable, then poverty reduction will be minimal. This can happen if the benefits of growth only accrue to the richest.

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Eight Ways To Reduce Global Inequality

Published at

Co-authored with Dr. Marjorie Wood

Extreme economic inequality is corrosive to our societies. It makes poverty reduction harder, hurts our economies, and drives conflict and violence. Reversing this trend presents a significant challenge, but one where we’ve seen some progress. Below we offer eight ways to move the world forward in reducing global inequality.

1. Stop Illicit Outflows Continue reading

Don’t miss the big picture: Oxfam highlights inequality because #WealthIsPower

Published on Oxfam Great Britain’s Mind the Gap blog

Don’t let the technical debate overshadow Oxfam’s real message.

Some critics of our work have asked why we looked at wealth, especially given the difficulties of measuring how it is distributed globally. Also, some charge that by only looking at wealth inequality, we’re missing the great reduction of extreme poverty that has taken place over the past couple decades as wages among the world’s poorest have risen, particularly in China and India.

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Guess what critics? Oxfam is right about the top 1%

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

Even without the bottom decile, they own half of global wealth.

Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva and I shocked the world last year with our calculation that therichest 85 people held the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity. We also determined, using Credit Suisse’s data, that the richest one percent owned more than 45 percent of all global wealth.

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Ebola and the scourge of inequality

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

Failure to act will worsen the divide between poor and rich countries.

Ebola looms like an ominous cloud over western Africa. For me, it’s a stark reminder of the extremely unequal world we live in, which is becoming worse instead of better.

Inequality has been in the news and on the talking points of elected officials in recent years. The financial crisis spurred attention to the increasing concentration of wealth among the one percent, and the falling prosperity of practically everyone else.

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The myth of inequality myths

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

Serious critics of inequality are not using the arguments that “The Right” would have you think.

Apparently those warning that inequality is both out of control and corrosive to our society have been championing erroneous notions. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute points out these myths in a blog he wrote last week entitled, “Inequality Myths.” Continue reading