Category Archives: power

Message to Congress on Trade and Inequality: Wake Up, ‘Trickle-Down’ is Dead!

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog. This blog post was co-authored by Stephanie Burgos, Oxfam America’s Economic Justice Policy Manager.

Fast-tracking TPP is unlikely to benefit economic growth and may further exacerbate inequality

The debate over trade is red-hot these days. Proponents in Congress are revving up this week to push through their ‘Plan B’ after a grassroots uprising took them by surprise earlier this month and defeated ‘Plan A’, which the Obama administration had hoped would grant it ‘fast track’ trade negotiating authority designed to facilitate completion and quick passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement. 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

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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Why did Oxfam target the billionaires at Davos?

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

It’s time they pay their taxes, stop using wealth to influence politics.

Whew! What a week for Oxfam!

On Monday, we released a new report on global inequality, “Working For the Few: Political Capture and Economic Inequality,”  targeted at the participants attending the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. These folks represent the global economic elite – the real movers and shakers of the world economy who heavily influence economic policymaking.

The media response has been overwhelming. Here’s a sample: Continue reading

Three must-read books on income inequality

Published on Oxfam America’s Politics of Poverty blog

Great reads to add to your (late) summer reading list

1) The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality by Branko Milanovic

This is a must read for anyone interested in both income inequality and great storytelling.Milanovic, who is Lead Economist in the World Bank research group, is uniquely gifted among researchers. In The Haves and the Have-Nots, he uses literature, history, and humor to explain the complexities of inequality both throughout time and in the current system. Throughout Branko ‘schools’ the reader with quick economics lessons, then follows with captivating vignettes exploring how the concepts operate in the real world. The Haves and the Have-Nots is one of my all-time favorite books on inequality, and it’s certainly one of the most entertaining reads within economics. Continue reading