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(from Forbes Magazine 1997, and Human Developmen Report 1998)
(Summary prepared by Dr. Róbinson Rojas Sandford)


New estimates show that the world's 225 richest people have a
combined wealth of over $ 1,000,000,000,000, equal to the annual
income of the poorest 47% of the world's population (2,500,000,000).

The enormity of the wealth of the ultra-rich is a mind-boggling
contrast with low incomes in the developing world.

* The three richest people have assets that exceed the combined
  Gross Domestic Product of the 48 least developed countries, with
  a combined population of 585,000,000.

* The 15 richest have assets that exceed the total Gross Domestic
  Product of Sub-Saharan Africa. The population in Sub-Saharan
  Africa is 570,000,000 and its GDP (year 1995) was US$ 290 billion.

* The wealth of the 32 richest people exceeds the total Gross
  Domestic Product of South Asia, with a combined population of
  1,571 million and an aggregate GDP of US$ 439 billion (year 1995).

* The assets of the 84 richest exceeded the Gross Domestic Product
  of China, the most populous country, with 1,200 million inhabitants
  and a GDP of US$ 745 billion (year 1995).

 Another striking contrast is the wealth of the 225 richest people
 compared with what is needed to achieve universal access to basic
 social services for all. It is estimated that the additional cost
 of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education
 for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for
 all women, adequate food for all and safe water and sanitation for
 all is roughly US$ 40 billion a year. This is less than 4% of the
 combined wealth of the richest 225 richest people in the world.

The country with the biggest share of the world's 225 richest people
is the United States, with 60 (combined wealth of US$ 311 billion),
followed by Germany, with 21 (US$ 111 billion), and Japan, with 14
(US$ 41 billion). Industrial countries have 147 of the richest 225
people ( US$ 645 billion combined), and developing countries 78
(US$ 370 billion). Africa has just two (US$ 3.7 billion), both
from South Africa.

The ultra-rich, by origin, 1997
                          Distribution  Combined wealth   Average wealth
                          of the 225    of the ultra-     of the ultra-
                          richest       rich              rich
Region/country group      people        (US$ billions)    (US$ billions)

United States                60            314               5.2
Germany                      21            111               5.3
Japan                        14             41               2.9
Other industrial countries   48            174               3.6
Eastern Europe and CIS        4              8               2.0
 TOTAL INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES 147            645               4.4

Asia                         43            233               5.4
Latin America/Caribbean      22             55               2.5
Arab States                  11             78               7.1
Sub-Saharan Africa            2              4               2.0
 TOTAL DEVELOPING COUNTRIES  78            370               4.7
TOTAL WORLD                 225          1,015               4.5

47% OF THE WORLD  2,500,000,000          1,015               0.0000004
 Average wealth of the 225 ultra-rich     US$ 4,500,000,000
 Average annual income of poorest 47%     US$           406

OBSCENITY NUMBER TWO: The priorities of the capitalist system

                       ANNUAL EXPENDITURE IN US$

Basic education for all                 6 billion (*)
Cosmetics in the USA                    8 billion

Water and sanitation for all            9 billion (*)
Ice cream in Europe                    11 billion

Reproductive health for all women      12 billion (*)
Perfumes in Europe and the USA         12 billion

Basic health and nutrition             13 billion (*)
Pet foods in Europe and the USA        17 billion

Business entertainment in Japan        35 billion
Cigarettes in Europe                   50 billion
Alcoholic drinks in Europe            105 billion
Narcotic drugs in the world           400 billion
Military spending in the world        780 billion
* Estimated additional annual cost to achieve universal access to
  basic social services in all developing countries.
SOURCE: Euromonitor 1997; UNDP; UNICEF; UNFPA 1994; Worldwide
        Research, Advisory and Business Intelligence Services 1997;
        Human Development Report 1998.