The world’s 1,542 billionaires’ combined wealth amounts to a record-breaking $6 trillion, making it the first time since the Gilded Age so much wealth has been concentrated.
The annual UBS / PwC Billionaires report found billionaires’ wealth increased about 17 percent last year with investments in technology and commodities performing the best, however these individuals are increasingly paranoid about comparisons to the Gilded Age’s billionaires, known for their exploitation of less wealthy people, according to the Guardian.
Running from the 1870s to early 1900s, the Gilded Age is defined by titans of industry like the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts who led industry and massive bank accounts. American society and government eventually dismantled their vast networks in response to what had become unbearable income inequality.
“We’re at an inflection point,” said Josef Stadler, lead author of the UBS report to the Guardian.
“Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest – that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?”
Stadler estimates about 98 percent of billionaires’ personal fortunes filter back to the public through their employ of almost 30 million people while the report noted billionaires are increasingly among the top art collectors and are founding private museums.
[Guardian] — E.K. Hudson