Sunday, 29 April 2012

More riches for the rich, recession for the rest

Lakshmi Mittal, Indian born
steel magnate and the richest
man in the UK.
Britain has slumped back into recession, the coalition government is attacking labour conditions, pensions and welfare provisions under the guise of "austerity" but the richest are still getting richer. The most wealthy 1,000 men and women in the UK increased their combined wealth by 4.7% from the previous year to £414 billion.

The fact that the richest 1,000 people in the UK became significantly wealthier, whilst the rest of us have suffered the stagflationary effects of the of Osborne's austerity and and the giant BoE quantitative easing money printing scam, comes as absolutely no surprise, given that the bosses of the FTSE 100 companies awarded themselves a whopping average salary increase of 49% in 2011.

A closer analysis of the Sunday Times rich list reveals that almost one fifth of the richest people (192) are listed as "property", followed closely by from people from the world of "finance" (185). Considering that the property and financial sector were responsible for the inflation of the "easy credit" backed property speculation bubble that caused the neoliberal economic crisis in the first place, it is a bit galling to see that these sectors provide 37.7% of the very richest people in the UK and that they are richer than ever, whilst the great majority of Brits are suffering from wage stagnation, pension cuts, property devaluation and loss of welfare entitlements.

1. Lakshmi Mittal (& family)Steel£12.7 bn
2. Alisher UsmanovMining and investment£12.3 bn
3. Roman AbramovichOil and industry£9.5 bn
4, Sri & Gopi HindujaIndustry and finance£8.6 bn
5. Leonard BlavatnikIndustry (Russian oil)£7.6 bn
6. Ernesto & Kirsty BertarelliPharmaceuticals£7.5 bn
7. The Duke of WestminsterProperty£7.3 bn
8. David & Simon ReubenProperty and investment£7.1 bn
9. John Fredriksen (& family)Shipping and oil services£6.6 bn
10. Weston brothers & FamilyRetailing£5.9 bn

That so many of Britain's richest people come from the economically unproductive sectors of finance and property contrasts starkly with the fact that only 129 of the richest 1,000 come from the industrial sector. That industry provides such a relatively small number of the richest individuals in the UK is indicative of the modern era of industrial decline. A great deal of the industrialists that have made it onto the rich list actually made their fortunes abroad before relocating to Britain to benefit from the lax tax regime.

Gerald Grosvenor is the only UK born individual in the top 10
and he inherited his wealth from his father.
It seems that since the British neoliberal revolution in 1979 the best way to make a fortune in Britain is through financial speculation or property ownership, meaning that genuinely productive sectors of the economy (industry & manufacturing) have been left to ruin, since the easy money is to be made elsewhere.

Another noteworthy observation is that only one person of the richest ten people in the UK was actually born in the UK. It is absolutely no surprise that the only non-immigrant individual to feature in the top 10 is a member of the aristocracy, the billionaire landowner Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster who inherited his wealth from his father, Robert Grosvenor, who was Britain's richest man in the 1970s. The rest of the top ten is made up of foreigners who have relocated to Britain: Three Russian oligarchs (Usmanov, Abramovich, Blavatnik), two Indian born industrialists (Mittal, Hinduja), one Norwegian born Cypriot (Fredriksen), the Indian born Iraqui Reuben brothers, the Swiss-Italian Bertarellis and the Canadian Weston brothers.

It seems that the best ways to become one of Britain's super rich elite are to be a foreigner relocating to Britain for tax purposes or a member of the landed aristocracy. Actually doing something productive and creating jobs comes way down the list, behind banking, property speculation or even being a celebrity from the worlds of film, media or sports. So if you intend to mitigate the worst effects of this Tory driven recession by joining the super-rich elite, make sure to be a rich foreigner or to inherit some wealth. If you do intend to "earn" your wealth in Britain make sure to stick to financial sector gambling, corporate profiteering or living off the proceeds of your property empire. Don't ever think about actually producing anything or employing people, this is a waste of time in neoliberal Britain.
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