UBS/PwC Publish their latest Report about the World’s Billionaires
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 27.10.2018, www.thecommunists.net
Yesterday, UBS – a Swiss multinational bank and one of the world’s largest financial corporations – has published, jointly with Britain’s PwC, the fifth edition of its annual Billionaires Insights report. (1) This report gives an overview about the number of the world’s billionaires, the growth of their wealth, their homeland, etc. (2)
According to the UBS/PwC report, the world’s super-rich – the elite among the monopoly capitalists – grew their combined wealth by US$1.4 trillion last year, more than the GDP of Spain or Australia. In other words, they made more money in 2017 than in any year in recorded history.
The report concludes: “The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age,” referring to the period in the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, when families such as the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts controlled vast wealth. (3)
Currently, there exist 2,158 billionaires in the world with a combined wealth of US$8.9 trillion. 814 billionaires have their home in Asia (475 of them in Greater China), 631 in North America (585 of them in the U.S.) and 414 in Western Europe.
The fastest growth of billionaires’ wealth took place in China, growing by 39% to $1.12 trillion. (4) In the Americas, wealth increased slower than the global rate at 12% to $3.6 trillion. However, this region remains the place with the biggest wealth concentration.
These figures are illuminating in several ways. They demonstrate that while the capitalist world economy has been marked by a tendency towards stagnation in the past decades, (5) the richest of the rich have succeeded to accumulate a spectacular amount of wealth. This is even more the case in the last years, despite the fact that the world economy is currently experiencing its most stagnating phase since the years of depression in the 1930s. (6)
This development shows once more the parasitic character of the capitalist class – and in particular of its upper strata, the monopolies. They own the economy but are incapable to revitalize its dynamic. Quite the opposite, they provoke bigger and bigger crisis.
The only partial exception to this is China due to specific historic circumstances. As capitalism was restored in the early 1990s, the country has experienced a period of initial capital accumulation under the centralized leadership of the Stalinist-capitalist regime.
But all over the world (including China) the capitalists are appropriating nearly all of the created wealth. In contrast, the workers, i.e. the class which is creating this wealth, has to survive with their meager and stagnant wages and rising unemployment.
If the working class would expropriate the super-rich, it would immediately posses the means to eradicate poverty and misery all over the world. This would enable them to initiate public works programs to rebuild the social and economic foundation of the society. It could finance the necessary innovations in the energy sector to combat the dangerous effects of climate change. (7)
Hence, the RCIT calls the workers vanguard to fight in each country and internationally for the expropriation of the super-rich!
(1) UBS/PwC: New visionaries and the Chinese Century. Billionaires insights 2018; A media release of the publishers which summarizes the results, can be viewed here: UBS/PwC Billionaires Report 2018: Total billionaire wealth grows 19 percent to a record USD 8.9 trillion, 26 October 2018, https://www.ubs.com/global/en/ubs-news/r-news-display-ndp/en-20181026-billionaires-report-2018.html
(2) There are several annual or bi-annual reports about the super-rich and their wealth. Among the most prominent ones, in addition to the UBS/PwC reports, are those published by Capgemini, Credit Suisse, the China-based Hurun, Forbes and Allianz. While those reports slightly differ in their results (as they use different data and methodology), they arrive at the same conclusions about the fundamental trends.
(3) UBS/PwC: New visionaries and the Chinese Century, p. 24
(4) We deal with billionaires in China in a separate article. See Michael Pröbsting: China: A Paradise for Billionaires. The latest UBS/PwC Report about the Global Super-Rich Delivers another Blow to the Stalinist Myth of China’s “Socialism”, 27.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/china-is-a-paradise-for-billionaires/
(5) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Catastrophic Failure of the Theory of “Catastrophism”. On the Marxist Theory of Capitalist Breakdown and its Misinterpretation by the Partido Obrero (Argentina) and its “Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International”, RCIT Pamphlet, May 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-catastrophic-failure-of-the-theory-of-catastrophism/; RCIT: Advancing Counterrevolution and Acceleration of Class Contradictions Mark the Opening of a New Political Phase. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries (January 2016), Chapter II and III, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 46, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2016/; Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South. Continuity and Changes in the Super-Exploitation of the Semi-Colonial World by Monopoly Capital. Consequences for the Marxist Theory of Imperialism, RCIT Books, Vienna 2013, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/great-robbery-of-the-south/; Michael Pröbsting: Imperialism, Globalization and the Decline of Capitalism (2008), in: Richard Brenner, Michael Pröbsting, Keith Spencer: The Credit Crunch - A Marxist Analysis, London 2008, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-and-globalization/.
(6) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Next Looming Great Recession. Observations on the Latest Stock Market Slump and the Structural Crisis of the Capitalist World Economy, 12 October 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-next-looming-great-recession/; Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries (Chapter III), RCIT Books, Vienna 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2018/
(7) See on this the program of the RCIT: Manifesto for Revolutionary Liberation, 2016, https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-program-2016/; The Revolutionary Communist Manifesto (2012), https://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-manifesto/