As the world's working class and poor have watched their wages stagnate or decline, the world's 500 wealthiest individuals saw their own wealth increase by a collective $1 trillion this year, thanks in no small part to booming stock markets.
From the Guardian:
> The globe’s 500 richest people, as measured by the Bloomberg billionaires index, have seen the value of the wealth increase by 23% so far this year, taking their combined fortunes to $5.3tn. The increase is largely the result of booming stock markets. The MSCI World Index and the US Standard & Poor’s 500 are both up almost 20% so far this year. The UK’s FTSE 100 is up more than 6% – and hit a new closing high of 7,620.7 points on Wednesday.
As wealth disparity worsens across the globe, rich people may have reason to fear the proverbial pitchfork scenario:
> The gap between the very rich and everyone else has widened to the biggest it has been in a century and advisers to the super-rich are warning them of a “strike back” from the squeezed majority.
According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report, 2.3 million new millionaires were created in the past year, bringing the total to 36 million - a group that rebounded quickly after the 2008 financial crisis and is now nearly three times its size in 2000.
> These millionaires – who account for 0.7% of the world’s adult population – control 46% of total global wealth that now stands at $280tn. At the other end of the spectrum, the world’s 3.5 billion poorest adults each have assets of less than $10,000 (£7,600). Collectively these people, who account for 70% of the world’s working age population, account for just 2.7% of global wealth.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos hangs onto his title of world's richest man by a healthy margin, closing in on a net worth of $100 billion, and a solid $8.3 billion ahead of the second wealthiest man, Bill Gates.
> His fortune has increased by $34.2bn so far this year to take his “net worth” to $99.6bn. On just one day in October Bezos’s fortune increased by $10.3bn, when Amazon posted profits much higher than analysts had expected and the company’s shares spiked.
> Bezos,53, who founded Amazon in his Seattle garage in 1994, owns 16% of the retailer. He also owns all of space exploration company Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper, which he bought for $250m in 2013.
The total number of billionaires worldwide now stands at 1,542:
> The world’s super-rich hold the greatest concentration of wealth since the US Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century, when families like the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast fortunes.