Davos billionaires Sh17tr richer as global forum kicks off

The global elite descending on Davos today are richer than ever.

A decade after the financial crisis poured flat champagne on the World Economic Forum, gold-collar executives set to gather there this week have bounced back, and then some. 

David Rubenstein has doubled his fortune since 2009. Jamie Dimon has more than tripled his net worth. And Stephen Schwarzman has increased his wealth six-fold.  It’s a remarkable showing given the economic and political tumult of the past decade, from Lehman Brothers to Brexit to Donald Trump.

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The fortunes of a dozen 2009 Davos attendees have soared by a combined $175 billion (Sh17.6 trillion), even as median US household wealth has stagnated, a Bloomberg analysis found. 

The data illustrate the ever-widening gap between the true haves — those in the 0.1 per cent — and the have-nots of a global economy. 

Widening gap

UBS and PwC Billionaires Insights reports show that global billionaire wealth has grown from $3.4 trillion (Sh343.4 trillion) in 2009 to $8.9 trillion (Sh898.9 trillion) in 2017.

A report from Oxfam last week revealed that the poorest half of the world saw their wealth fall by 11 per cent last year.

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Central bank actions to fight the financial crisis — record low interest rates and bond-buying programmes — have underpinned this ballooning wealth by driving up the prices of stocks and other assets.  “Ten years ago, ironically at the lows of the market, what you wanted to own was capital and if you did own capital you did incredibly well,” said Michael Hartnett, Bank of America Corp’s chief investment strategist. 

It means the conference’s attendees—overwhelmingly male — exert more authority and visibility than ever. 

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World Economic ForumDavid RubensteinStephen Schwarzman