SAO PAULO —Â Two studies published in recent months show how inequality around the world is becoming even more obscene than before.
One suchÂ studyÂ is the UBS report on the rich that focuses on capital. TheÂ figures involved are predictably shocking, but one element in particular caught our attention: The wealth owned by the ultra-rich (thoseÂ owningÂ at least $30 million in assets, who represent just 0.004% of the world's adult population) grew by an average 6.6% every year between 1992 and 2012.
These people saw their wealth rise at a similar rate as the booming Chinese economy, despite the fact that during part of this period of time, between 2008 and 2011, mostÂ of the world was mired in a deep financial crisis.
As for the workers, on the other hand,Â John Evans, a top officialÂ on trade atÂ Paris-based OECD commented in a recent forumÂ thatÂ "Governments and international institutions are not changing a business model drivesÂ profits up but still won't provideÂ a minimum living wage of $177 a monthÂ in Cambodia or $120 in Bangladesh."
SharanÂ Burrow, the International Trade Union Confederation's General Secretary went further and said that "the rule for working people isÂ uncertainty: low income, insecure jobs with little or no social protection are the reality for too many families."
None of this is new, of course. But it's stillÂ shocking, especially when we take a closer look at the data for Brazil.Â Despite still being generally consideredÂ a poor country, Brazil ranks tenth for the number of millionaires, higher than rich countries such as Spain or Switzerland. .
Brazil v.Â USA
What's even more obscene, that group grew faster than in any other country in the world between 2013 and 2014, except for China. In that period, the number of millionaires shot up by about 350%. For the sake of comparison, in the United States, where the concentration of rich and ultra-rich is still higher than anywhere else on Earth, that number grew by a mere 20%.
Again, we're talking about a time when the economy is largely stagnating. But as we saw with the figures published by UBS, the global economic slowdown didn't even scratch those at the top.
Unbelievably,Â there are stillÂ people in Brazil who believe that Lula da Silva's andÂ DilmaÂ Rousseff's Workers' Party has reduced inequality.Â It hasn't.
What was reduced, if that's actually what happened, was the wage difference among different employeesÂ —Â but not the difference between the rate of capital accumulation and wages.
I must confess that I'm growing tired of working on this subject, but it wouldn't be honest to just walk away from it at a time when even the "rich-country club" OECDÂ publishes a reportÂ damningÂ its own members. InÂ the words of John Evans:Â "Rising income inequality is no longer just an ethical or normative issue — it has very tangible economic costs."
Not only does a deep wealth divide preventÂ a bonaÂ fide recovery from the crisis of the last decade, it limits opportunity for a new generation.Â In other words, steep income inequality affects not just the present, but ourÂ future.