Food and energy tycoons earned $1 billion every two days during the pandemic

  • Food and energy billionaires have made $453 billion in the past two years, per Oxfam.
  • Energy and food prices have skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
  • US consumer inflation is hovering around its highest level in four decades.

Rising food and energy prices have affected consumers around the world — but have boosted the wealth of billionaires in these sectors by about $453 billion in the past two years, or about $1 billion every two days, according to Oxfam.

The surge in billionaires’ fortunes comes as food and energy companies post record profits amid the pandemic, “even at a time when wages have barely budged and workers have struggled with rising prices for decades,” The non-profit organization based in the United Kingdom wrote in the latest report released on Monday.

“Five of the largest energy companies (BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron) together make $2,600 in profits every second, and there are now 62 new food billionaires,” according to Oxfam accounts.

Oxfam bases its accounts on 310 billionaires on Forbes Billionaires List in the food, agribusiness, oil, gas and coal sectors. Their combined fortune is now $1.5 trillion – up from more than $1 trillion since March 2020.

Energy and food prices have skyrocketed since the pandemic began in 2020 due to supply chain disruptions. They gained more after Russia invaded Ukraine. Both countries are major producers of energy and food.

The US Consumer Price Index – a measure of price growth in the country – rose 8.3% in the year through April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the pace of inflation slowed in April, it was still near a four-decade high 8.5% in March.

Quartet ABCD

Oxfam writes that monopolies are “particularly common” in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors, contributing to the fortunes of billionaires.

“With just three other companies, the Cargill family controls 70 percent of the global agricultural market,” the nonprofit wrote. Oxfam did not name the other three companies, but the world’s dominant food companies are known in the industry by the “ABCD” quartet after their initials: Archer Daniels Midland, Bong, Cargill and Louis-Dreyfus.

Cargill is the largest private company in the United States, per Forbes. In 2021, the company posted a profit of $5 billion – the largest in its 156-year history, according to August Bloomberg Report Which cited company-issued data for fundraising purposes. Cargill stopped releasing its results in 2020.

The Clan Cargill Macmillan, who owns the business, is also getting richer. The family now has 12 billionaires, up from eight before the pandemic, according to an Oxfam report, which uses Forbes Billionaires List from different years.

Benefit from pain and suffering

As the rich get richer, “millions more are giving up their meals, turning off heating, falling behind on bills and wondering what they can do next to survive,” said Gabriella Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International. a Press release.

Oxfam has also targeted the pharmaceutical and technology industries, which have seen windfalls from the pandemic.

“The very rich and the powerful profit from pain and suffering,” Bucher said. “This is intolerable.”

“Some get rich by denying billions of people access to vaccines, others by exploiting high food and energy prices. They pay huge bonuses and profits while paying as little taxes as possible,” Boucher added.

Oxfam is calling for permanent wealth taxes on the super-rich and a “one-off solidarity tax on pandemic billionaire windfalls” that will be earmarked to support those struggling with energy and food inflation. It also proposed a “temporary excess dividend tax” of 90% on windfall profits for large corporations in all industries.

Three groups of ultra-rich National Millionaires, UK National Millionaires and Tax List have echoed Oxfam’s call against massive wealth. at Sunday announcement, They called for wealth taxes to reduce inequality and “help deal with the cost-of-living scandal taking place in multiple countries around the world”.

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