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At Davos, Is the Party Over?
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, The New York Times
January 22, 2013, 9:52 pm
In previous years, the Friday night of the World Economic Forum was always filled with big dinners and blowout parties.
Certain bashes were among the most coveted. Google held a standing-room only party at Steigenberger Belvedere Hotel, complete with bands flown in from New York and beyond. Across the street, Accel Partners, the venture capital firm behind Facebook, held a wine tasting at the Kirchner Museum, often flying in cases of vintage wine from California. And Nike held a huge dinner with the slogan, “No Speeches. No Powerpoint. And no ties.”
This Friday, however, the operative slogan could be “No dinner. No parties.”
Have those companies given up on Davos for good? Is there something bigger here at play than just parties? Those are some of the questions being asked, however, answers have been forthcoming – at least not yet.
Oxfam says world’s rich could end poverty
20 Jan 2013 07:49
The world’s 100 richest people earned enough money last year to end world extreme poverty four times over, according to a new report released by international rights group and charity Oxfam.
The $240 billion net income of the world’s 100 richest billionaires would have ended poverty four times over, according to the London-based group’s report released on Saturday.
(Jeremy) Hobbs (executive director at Oxfam) said that “a global new deal” is required, encompassing a wide array of issues, from tax havens to employment laws, in order to address income inequality.
Closing tax havens, the group said, could yield an additional $189bn in additional tax revenues. According to Oxfam’s figures, as much as $32 trillion is currently stored in tax havens.
In a statement, Oxfam warned that “extreme wealth and income is not only unethical it is also economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive and environmentally destructive.”
Can we fight poverty by ending extreme wealth?
by Olga Khazan, Washington Post
January 20, 2013 at 8:00 am
In a sign that the “Occupy” and “99 percent” movements that swept the United States in recent years have taken on increased global relevance, Oxfam International this week called (.pdf) for “a new global goal to end extreme wealth by 2025,” as a way to stem income inequality and continue the fight against poverty.
Oxfam does have a point. The movement against income inequality has been gaining momentum as the world’s rich have continued to amass larger shares of their countries’ fortunes. In the United States, according to the group, the share of national income going to the top 1 percent of the population has increased to 20 percent, from 10 percent in 1980.
The World Economic Forum (Davos) also recently rated “severe income disparity” as one of its top global risks for 2013.
Oxfam’s idea is basically the opposite of the trickle-down theory: Rather than creating jobs and lifting others out of poverty, the group says, super-rich minorities cause social unrest and depress demand for goods and services, limiting growth and innovation as a result. It’s an argument that’s also been echoed recently by several vocal billionaires.
The group also suggested some measures that have been at the center of some of the fiercest policy battles in the United States and elsewhere:
“Limits to bonuses, or to how much people can earn as a multiple of the earnings of the lowest paid, limits to interest rates, limits to capital accumulation are all only recently-abandoned policy instruments that can be revived. Progressive taxation that redistributes wealth from the rich to the poor is essential,” Oxfam continued.
Those tactics sound good, but they’d require something else that unfortunately the most unequal countries also lack: governments willing to risk angering their wealthiest citizens in order to improve life for the poorest.
I wouldn’t hold my breath.