Wealth taxes on the global ultra-rich in 2022 alone could have raised $1.7 trillion to tackle inequality.
Our world's wealthiest (and their private jets) have likely all by now returned home from the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Loftily perched in the Swiss Alps, this year’s gathering claimed to focus on “Cooperation in a Fragmented World.” Top issues up for discussion ranged from climate tech innovation to chat bots. But, as to be expected, the Davos sessions devoted little — if any — time to the urgent issues that impact the daily lives of working people.

No surprise there. Our super rich truly live in a different world, as the most recent stats on billionaire wealth show so clearly. Over the last decade, the global billionaire class has more than doubled in size, and the wealth of that class has skyrocketed at a similar rate: 99.6 percent.

That stat comes from a new analysis from the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Patriotic Millionaires. Wealth taxes on the global ultra-rich in 2022 alone could have raised $1.7 trillion to tackle inequality. Putting those taxes into effect would be just the sort of cooperation our fragmented world most desperately needs.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
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El Salvador Arrests Opponents of Mining Goliaths
The forces behind global mining interests have been after Antonio Pacheco for years. Death threats. Efforts to buy his support with prostitutes. The assassination of fellow activists. But Pacheco, pictured center above, and other leaders have been unwavering in their campaign to block mining activities in El Salvador that would enrich the few while endangering the nation’s water supply.

In 2017, their campaign won the world’s first ban on metals mining, a stunning victory that Institute for Policy Studies senior advisor John Cavanagh and Robin Broad chronicled in their book, The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country From Corporate Greed.

But this David-vs-Goliath struggle has not ended. On January 11, Pacheco and four other men were arrested in what environmental and human rights organizations are calling a politically motivated move to silence opposition to mining — at a time when the government is reportedly taking steps to overturn the ban. John Cavanagh has the full story.
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Wall Street’s Most Mighty Minor Billionaire?
The Covid era has been a rough one for the Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant, and just last August the company laid off almost 10,000 employees. But the billionaire Ryan Cohen — a 37-year-old who built up a serious stock stake in Alibaba earlier in 2022 — doesn’t want the firm investing big-time in building back its business. He’s demanding instead that the firm invest in share buybacks that enrich existing big-time Alibaba shareholders just like himself. In November, under that pressure, Alibaba did announce plans to buy back $40 billion worth of its shares by March 2025. Cohen wants that total jacked up to $60 billion. What’s giving Cohen all his bargaining power? His personal net worth currently sits at only $2.5 billion, but he’s amassed a substantial following among retail Wall Street investors since unloading Chewy, the petfood giant he co-founded, for a neat little fortune back in 2017.
Public Money for the Public Good — Join Us!
What can the Biden administration do to make sure our tax dollars support good jobs instead of lining the pockets of wealthy CEOs? Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal will be keynoting a virtual event January 30 that will explore that pivotal question.

Jayapal recently helped persuade the Biden administration to put strings on new semiconductor manufacturing subsidies that would serve to discourage spending on stock buybacks. As Institute for Policy Studies research has well documented, buybacks artificially inflate the value of CEO stock-based pay while siphoning off resources for worker wages.

But the Biden administration can do much more — without congressional action — to push companies to prioritize good jobs over Wall Street payouts and fat CEO paychecks.

Additional speakers at next week’s virtual session include our own Inequality.org co-editor Sarah Anderson and workers and other representatives of the AFL-CIO, Jobs to Move America, United for Respect, Communications Workers of America, and Americans for Financial Reform.
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A Stunning ‘Down’ Year for Our Deepest Pockets?
Last year ended with a torrent of news stories about how poorly the world’s billionaires fared in 2022. Bloomberg tagged the 12 months that had just gone past “a year to forget,” with almost $1.5 trillion “wiped from the fortunes of the richest 500 alone.” All global billionaires taken together, Forbes chimed in, lost $1.9 trillion in 2022. Did all these losses have our billionaires shaking in their boots? Did they start tightening their belts a bit? Spend less on the world’s most fabulously expensive luxury must-haves? Not exactly. In fact, not all. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
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What's on Inequality.org 

Chuck Collins, How the Getty and Walton Families Use Trusts to Dodge Taxes. Complexity: the bread and butter of the wealth defense industry.

Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo, New Report on Extreme Wealth and Potential Wealth Tax Revenue. A new study from the Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, Patriotic Millionaires, and the Fight Inequality Alliance features nation-by-nation data on wealth inequality and the revenue possibilities of national wealth taxes.

Sam Pizzigati, Oxfam Wants To More than Double the Tax Rate on Our Richest. That bold a hike, our U.S. history suggests, can actually happen.

Elsewhere on the Web

Evan Osnos, The Getty Family’s Trust Issues, New Yorker. Inequality.org analysts Chuck Collins and Bob Lord help dissect the ongoing scandal that family trusts for the super rich have become.

Chuck Collins and Kalena Thomhave, How Nevada Picks Millions From California’s Pocket, American Prospect. A lawsuit against members of the wealthy Getty family exposes the intricacies of state trust law.

Miguel Jiménez, Chuck Collins, the activist who gave up his inheritance: ‘The United States is now one of the biggest tax havens’, El País. The great-grandson of Oscar F. Mayer rejected his fortune because he wanted to make his own way in life. In his latest book, he takes aim at the ‘wealth defense industry’ and how it helps billionaires evade taxes through philanthropy and trusts.

Gerald Epstein and Aaron Medlin, How the Federal Reserve Protects the Top One Percent, American Prospect. Our central bank operates by and for the financial elite.

Nabil Ahmed, The return of Davos highlights an unprecedented global wealth grab, The Hill. Since 2020, the world’s billionaires have grown their wealth by $2.7 billion each day. Welcome to the new roaring 20s!

Jordan Uhl, The Lawsuit That Could Freeze Speech Against Billionaires, The Lever. A gas mogul’s case against Beto O’Rourke could deter candidates from ever talking about money in politics.

Christine Kim, On Solving The Valuation Challenge: The ULTRA Method For Taxing Extreme Wealth, TaxProfBlog. A promising new approach to taxing the rich.

Judd Legum, The true priorities of the global elite, Popular Information. The CEOs and billionaires at the 2023 Davos forum preached the gospel of “stakeholder capitalism” as the ultra-wealthy continue to hold down worker wages, slash corporate taxes, and obstruct environmental regulations.

Phil White, I’m a millionaire – this is why I’m at Davos begging to pay more tax, Guardian. We need to build a world fit for future generations, and that means investing in social capital and public infrastructure, tasks the tax dollars of our ultra-wealthy can help us underwrite.

Tim Brinkhof, Here’s what being filthy rich in Europe looked like in 1000 BC, 1 AD, and 1000 AD, Big Think. Studying personal wealth across time can help us better understand the history of socioeconomic inequality.

Marilyn Sneiderman and Stephen Lerner, Making Hope and History Rhyme: A New Worker Movement from the Shell of the OldNew Labor Forum. Veteran organizers’ views on how to transform the economy to redistribute wealth and power, protect the environment, and end white supremacy.

Freddie deBoer, Why is Everyone Suddenly Obsessed with ‘Generational Wealth’? FdB. People who have never wanted for anything find themselves in some sense spiritually deprived.

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