The wealthy are wealthy because they work harder than you: So goes a favorite parable. Many wealthy people undoubtedly do work hard; at least those who amassed it themselves rather than inheriting it.
But is it really possible that 22 people could work harder than the entire population of Poland? Or Switzerland?
It safe to assume there are millions of Poles and Swiss who work diligently at their jobs. Yet the gross domestic products of Poland, Switzerland and most other countries of the world is smaller than the wealth amassed by 22 people.
The top of an extraordinarily steep pyramid is in the stratosphere. There are 22 people in the world who possess US$20 billion or more of assets, according to the 2012 edition of Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s billionaires. Those 22 people have a combined total of $675 billion in assets. You read that correctly: two-thirds of a trillion U.S. dollars. There are only 18 countries in the world with a gross domestic product of more than $675 billion, according to World Bank calculations.
So, yes, 22 people have more than is produced by the entire country of Switzerland — one of the world’s richest countries — and more than the 38 million people of Poland, one of the European Union’s biggest countries.
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