Experts ID Top Threat to Global Stability: ‘Staggering’ Inequality

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A new report identifies the growing gap between the rich and the poor as the biggest global risk in the next decade.

The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. It is cliche, but unfortunately true, and it describes the biggest threat to the global economy, according to experts gathered in Switzerland this week.

In their newly published Global Risks 2014 report by the World Economic Forum, the group identified the world’s ever-increasing wealth gap as the risk “most likely to cause serious damage globally in the coming decade.”

The report, which incorporates contributions from 700 global experts, analyzes 31 global risks, measuring each risk in terms of its likelihood and potential impact. The report is the centerpiece of the WEF’s annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

“Each risk considered in this report holds the potential for failure on a global scale; however, it is their interconnected nature that makes their negative implications so pronounced as together they can have an augmented effect,” Jennifer Blanke, chief economist at the WEF, said in a statement.

The report also identifies extreme weather events, unemployment and underemployment, climate change and cyber attacks as other events that have the most likelihood to wreak havoc on a global scale, the WEF release said.

Philip Jennings, general secretary of the UNI Global Union, which represents service workers around the world, told The Guardian that the report should serve as a wake-up call to world leaders.

These are global issues we can do something about: We can twist the global economy back into shape – this includes a new commitment to create jobs, address income inequality and falling living standards. Since the global financial crisis, it’s been a race to the bottom in jobs, wages and living standards.

The richest 1 percent of the world’s population will have more than half of the world’s wealth by next year. That mind-boggling statistic is from the development nonprofit Oxfam America Inc., Bloomberg reports.

“The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering,” Winnie Byanyima, a co-chairwoman of the events in Davos and Oxfam’s executive director, said in a statement. “Despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”

The WEF meeting is attended by business leaders, bankers and politicians from across the globe.

Do you agree with the WEF’s identification of the global wealth gap as the biggest threat facing the world? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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