Oxfam's upside down inequality study
Today there is a commonplace — and wrong — impression that inequality is inexorably rising. Oxfam just contributed to the misunderstanding by claiming that the richest eight people own the same amount as half the world’s population.
Oxfam measures net wealth, not income. Crucially, it includes ‘negative’ wealth, meaning the 5% of Americans with student loans or negative equity in their houses are considered among the world’s poorest — poorer than three-quarters of all Africans. This means that even the most impoverished soul you could imagine — a day laborer from Zimbabwe with nothing but a comb to his name — in Oxfam’s eyes is richer than the poorest 45% of the world’s population. Oxfam’s data also leaves out any entitlements to pensions and entirely ignores the huge assets owned by the state.