We are the 99.9998%!

Canadian Business magazine has published its annual list of the 100 richest people in Canada. Jim Stanford describes the 0.0002% of Canadians who hold personal wealth over one billion dollars

Progressive Economics Forum,  October 14, 2011

  • There are 61 Canadian billionaires on the list.  That represents under 0.0002% of the national population (far smaller than the 1% targeted by the protestors).
  • Their combined wealth is $162 billion.  That is approximately 5 times as large as the federal government’s 2010 deficit (which was just reported this week at $33.4 billion for fiscal 2010-11).
  • Those 61 individuals own about 6% of all personal net worth in Canada (which totalled some $2.8 trillion in 2010).  In contrast, the bottom 50% of Canadians owns about 3% of all personal net worth, according to the most recent survey on the distribution of wealth (which was conducted in 2005).
  • Those 61 individuals therefore own twice as much wealth, as the bottom 17 million Canadians.  (Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 378-0051, and Catalogue 75-001 December 2006.)
  • Almost half the billionaires live in Ontario.  That puts a slightly different spin on Ontario’s new status within Canada as a “have-not” province!
  • Average billionaire wealth (across the 61, unweighted) grew by 8.4% in the last year.  That’s over three times as fast as the 2.5% increase in average hourly earnings for Canadian workers in 2010. (Source: Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 281-0030.)
  • The average wealth of billionaires increased (on a weighted basis) by just under $100 million each in the last year.  In contrast, average household net financial wealth per capita in Canada grew by $524 in 2010.  (Source: Calculated from Statistics Canada CANSIM Table 378-0051.)  So while the average billionaire became $100 million richer in 2010, the average Canadian became $524 richer.  (And that is the national average, which is unduly pulled up by those enormous gains at the top end.  We’d need a more detailed breakdown to estimate how the typical Canadian fared on that score.
  • The biggest winner on the Canadian Business list this year was Chip Wilson, owner of Lululemon, whose wealth more than doubled (to $2.85 billion). The biggest “loser” (if you can even be a “loser” in a club of billionaires!) was RIM’s Jim Balsillie, whose wealth (consisting mostly of RIM shares) plunged 39% in the year, to $1.11 billion.  (Given recent events, sadly, he’ll be right off the list by next year.)
  • It would take 8.7 million person-years of employment, working at Ontario’s current minimum wage ($10.25 per hour) to produce $162 billion: the same value as the combined wealth of the 61 billionaires.
Posted in Canada & Quebec, Inequality & Class
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