The conclusion is clear.

In fifty years, the object of fascination has passed from the fictional man who was worth three billion to the very real man who is worth almost a hundred times as much: Elon Musk, the world's first fortune, is the symbol of ever deeper digging inequalities, detailed by French economists, in a report published Tuesday, December 7.

The very rich have seen their fortunes grow thanks to primarily financial wealth in recent years, notes the World Inequality Report 2022, an annual report providing a detailed inventory of global inequalities.

In 2021, we find that the global top 10% captures 52% of global income, while the poorest half captures only 8.5% of the total.

Wealth is much more concentrated than income: the top 10% captures 76% of all wealth and the global bottom 50%, just 2% of it (see the video).

- Lucas Chancel (@lucas_chancel) December 7, 2021

Coordinated by economist Lucas Chancel, with contributions from Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, this 228-page report militates for the establishment of a progressive taxation of heritage on a global scale, as well as a international financial register in order to act against tax evasion.

For a small caste, this heritage is stratospheric: the classification of the American magazine Forbes, which assesses what the richest have in real time, shows that the top ten have more than 100 billion dollars each.

In the lead, the boss of Tesla with $ 266 billion.

>> Thomas Piketty: "The revolts are necessary but insufficient"

All Americans, with the exception of the French boss of the luxury group LVMH Bernard Arnault, they amassed their 12-figure fortune mainly in tech, thanks to a surge in stock prices.

Jeff Bezos, in second place, owns 9.9% of Amazon, and Mark Zuckerberg 12.3% of Facebook.

More than 3,600 billion euros for the heritage of billionaires

"After more than 18 months of Covid-19, the world is even more polarized" in terms of wealth inequalities, underlines to AFP Lucas Chancel, co-director of the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics.

"While the heritage of billionaires has taken more than 3.6 trillion euros, 100 million additional people have joined the ranks of extreme poverty," he explains, while for 25 years the extreme poverty had declined.

The key novelty is the return of inequality within countries.

While inequality between countries remain very large (think about the US vs. India), inequality within countries are even larger today (see graph below): there are super rich Indians and poor Americans ...

- Lucas Chancel (@lucas_chancel) December 7, 2021

According to the report, the 52 richest people have seen the value of their wealth grow by 9.2% per year for 25 years, far more than the less endowed categories.

The club of the richest 1%, i.e. people with more than $ 1.3 million in assets, has captured more than a third of the fortune accumulated on the planet since 1995.

>> To see: For Cécile Duflot, Executive Director of Oxfam, "The richest have benefited from the pandemic"

"Given the very high concentration of wealth, modest and progressive taxation can generate significant revenues for governments" whose indebtedness has soared in the face of the 2007-2008 crisis and the pandemic, suggests the report.

Where the tax on heritage today focuses too much on land, it militates for a modernization and progressivity of this taxation.

All forms of assets must be concerned, especially financial assets which represent the bulk of modern fortunes.

Taxation on expatriate assets

The report assesses a hypothesis of taxation in several brackets, from $ 1 million, and progressive up to a high bracket exceeding $ 100 billion in wealth.

On tax evasion, the report recommends the creation of an international financial register, for example under the aegis of the OECD or the UN, which "would allow tax and regulatory authorities to verify whether taxpayers correctly declare their taxes. capital assets and income, regardless of what offshore financial institutions want to communicate. "

>> To read: Covid-19: how the super-rich got richer during the pandemic

At the same time, the World Inequality Report calls for maintaining a tax on expatriate assets, and imposing an "exit tax" of several years for taxpayers who decide to move for tax reasons.

The more automatic exchanges of information now between tax jurisdictions and digital progress will allow a more precise application of the rules, also explains this report.

The good news is that there is no fatality to inequality.

The graph below shows that Europe & the US were able to reduce top 1% shares over the 20th century, thanks to policies & not just wars.

A lot has been done ... & there is still a lot to do (especially on wealth inequality)

- Lucas Chancel (@lucas_chancel) December 7, 2021

"We are seeing the beginnings of a change", wants to believe Lucas Chancel, citing the recent introduction of an exceptional contribution on the great fortunes in Argentina, a debate on the subject during the recent German legislative elections, and the voluntarism of the president American, Joe Biden, although several of his initiatives collided with Congress.

The adoption, after years of negotiations, of a proposed minimum 15% tax on wealthy multinationals is also, according to him, a sign of the change at work.

"We will get there at some point simply because there is a need for states to finance their spending," he adds.

With AFP

The summary of the week

France 24 invites you to come back to the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you!

Download the France 24 application