Wealth in Latin America seems to be concentrated in Chile, and that country has the highest level of wealth among the ultra-rich in relation to the size of its economy, equivalent to 16.1% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as calculated by the Commission. Economy for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
According to the BBC World, the calculations only consider the so-called “billionaires”, that is, those people who have assets of at least US $ 1,000 million.
Globally there are 2,755 people who belong to that category, yen Latin America there are 104 ultra-rich, of which nine are Chileanwhich is distributed as follows, according to Forbes data:
- Iris Fontbona and Luksic family: $23.3 billion
- Julio Ponce Lerou: $4.1 billion
- Horst Paulmann and family: $3.3 billion
- Sebastián Piñera and family: US$2.9 billion
- Jean Salata*: $2.4 billion
- Roberto Angelini: $2 billion
- Alvaro Saeih: $1.8 billion
- Patricia Angelini: $1.6 billion
- Luis Enrique Yarur: $1.3 billion
(*Living and working in Hong Kong since 1989).
Their fortunes are mainly concentrated in the finance (Sebastián Piñera, Alvaro Saieh, Luis Enrique Yarur), mining (Iris Fontbona and Julio Ponce Lerou), forestry (Roberto Angelini, Patricia Angelini) and retail (Horst Paulmann) sectors.
According to the 2022 World Inequality Report, the richest 1% of Chile concentrates 49.6% of the country’s total wealth, while in Brazil it controls 48.9%, in Mexico 46.9% and in the United States 34.9%.
Wealth and social gap became a fundamental part of the debate of the electoral campaign of the presidential elections that gave victory to the leftist Gabriel Boric in 2021.
The new president has proposed a tax reform “gradually and fiscally responsible” that aspires to collect 5% of GDP during his term, which includes the wealth tax, which would affect around 0.1% of the population.
The tax reform proposal has been the target of harsh criticism, and those who oppose it recall the case of France, where millionaires went to live in Belgium, and in the OECD countries they have been withdrawing
Another of the most cited arguments against the initiative is that it will discourage investment and thus harm economic growth.
“In countries like Chile, Brazil and Mexico, we have seen that labor income inequality has decreased, but if we add income from capital, inequality remains more constant”, tells BBC Mundo Ignacio Flores, coordinator for Latin America of the World Inequality Database of the Paris School of Economics and researcher at the University of New York.
In Latin America there are higher levels of concentration of wealth because in some sectors there are very few actors, says Luis Felipe López-Calva, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
“Wealth worries us when it comes from income due to lack of competition, not when it is productive wealth that generates well-being for a country,” he points out in dialogue with BBC Mundo.
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