November 16, 2015
As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes: Alec Hogg in Davos
Hedge fund managers are reportedly buying airstrips and farms in remote areas because they think they need a getaway.
With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.
I know hedge fund managers who are buying airstrips in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway
Johnson, who heads the Institute of New Economic Thinking and was previously managing director at Soros, said societies can tolerate income inequality if the income floor is high enough. But with an existing system encouraging chief executives to take decisions solely on their profitability, even in the richest countries inequality is increasing.
Johnson added: “People need to know there are possibilities for their children – that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else. There is a wicked feedback loop. Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get more even money.”
Global warming and social media are among the trends the 600 super-smart World Economic Forum staffers told its members to watch out for long before they became ubiquitous. This year, income inequality is fast moving up the Davos agenda – a sure sign of it is poised to burst into the public consciousness.
Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and a Davos star attraction after giving the closing address in 2014, said he had spent a lot of time learning from the leaders behind recent social unrest in Ferguson. He believes that will prove “a catalytic event” which has already changed the conversation in the US, bringing a message from those who previously “didn’t matter”.
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