A world divided: Elites descend on Swiss Alps amid rising inequality

Sun Jan 17, 2016 7:00pm EST
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* Oxfam says richest 1 pct of own more than other 99 pct

* Edelman survey shows widening trust gap with politicians

* Inequalities blamed for rise of populism in U.S., Europe

* Obama acknowledges more wealth concentrated at "very top"

By Ben Hirschler and Noah Barkin

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Politicians and business leaders gathering in the Swiss Alps this week face an increasingly divided world, with the poor falling further behind the super-rich and political fissures in the United States, Europe and the Middle East running deeper than at any time in decades.

Just 62 people, 53 of them men, own as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire world population and the richest 1 percent own more than the other 99 percent put together, anti-poverty charity Oxfam said on Monday.

Significantly, the wealth gap is widening faster than anyone anticipated, with the 1 percent overtaking the rest one year earlier than Oxfam had predicted only a year ago.

Rising inequality and a widening trust gap between people and their political leaders are big challenges for the global elite as they converge on Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, which runs from Jan. 20 to 23.   Continued...