Every January, Oxfam releases a report on global wealth inequality. This year’s Oxfam report contrasted the drop in wealth held by the less wealthy half of New Zealand with the rise in wealth enjoyed by the two Kiwis who made it on to Forbes‘ 2018 list of billionaires.
The report, and the Stuff story on it, suggested that New Zealand’s rich have got richer while the poor have got poorer.
But Oxfam’s reports rely on the Credit Suisse annual reports on global wealth, released every October. The actual Credit Suisse figures vary considerably from how Oxfam has presented them.
The data didn’t back Oxfam’s narrative so they ignored half of it. Oxfam is basically a socialist lobbying organisation pretending to be a charity.
Oxfam’s report reached a vastly different conclusion to the underlying Credit Suisse figures because Oxfam ignored half the data in the Credit Suisse report. The contrast between the wealth increase for two Forbesbillionaires and the wealth decline in the Credit Suisse figures was painted as an increase in overall inequality.
But the wealth holdings of two billionaires, in a country of about five million people, really do not tell us much about what is going on overall.
Credit Suisse’s report uses the Gini measure of inequality in wealth holdings. The Gini measure compares everyone with everyone else rather than relying heavily on two billionaires.
Credit Suisse’s figures show that wealth inequality dropped from a Gini figure of 72.3 in 2017 to 70.8 in 2018. New Zealand currently sits between France and Canada – about where you might reasonably expect.
Discussing the report on Newstalk ZB, Oxfam’s Rachael Le Mesurier said “this gap is getting bigger”.
According to Newstalk, “she said the gap had been continuing to grow since the inception of their reports about five years ago”. But the Credit Suisse 2013 wealth report, which would have formed the basis for Oxfam’s 2014 report, had New Zealand’s wealth Gini coefficient at 71.8 – again, less equal than 2018’s figure.
So basically Oxfam lied. Inequality has been shrinking according to the official data. So they ignored it and just focused on two billionaires in the classic politics of envy.