PRESS RELEASE Thursday 11th January 2024
Super-rich on course to multiply wealth 91 times faster than everyone else by 2028 – Liam Byrne’s new book reveals the alarming levels of inequality of wealth today and poses five solutions
Rising interest rates might have triggered a wealth meltdown for some – but not for the world’s richest, who may now be set to multiply their personal wealth ninety-one times more than the bottom 99% of the world’s citizens by 2028.
That’s not just bad for economics; it’s a disaster for politics, says Liam Byrne MP, whose new book is published today, ahead of the world’s elite gathering together in Davos on Monday.
Byrne’s book, The Inequality of Wealth. Why it matters and how to fix it, lays out how wealth inequality is increasing exponentially and its huge implications for the future of the next generation with the threat of rising corruption and collapsing social mobility.
But, based on extensive research from around the world, Byrne pulls together five big ways to rebuild what he calls the old ideal of a ‘wealth-owning democracy’.
“We are now at a fork in the road. Unless we take action now, wealth inequality in Britain and around the world is going to get worse and worse.
“That creates a huge risk of our country becoming an ‘inheritocracy’ where the only people who can get on in life are those born into the wealthiest families. That threatens Britain with a future that is ever poorer, more corrupt and stagnant and where hard work is simply no longer enough to get you on in life.
“Things are now so bad that the public no longer believe that democratically elected governments are the most powerful forces on earth. They believe the super-rich are the super-powerful.”
“New analysis revealed in my book shows that if the world’s richest carry on multiplying their gains at the same rate as since the financial crash, they are set to add £64 trillion to their coffers by 2028. That’s a wealth boost of £1.3 million for every lucky member of the top 1% – 91 times the rise in wealth of just £14,000 for the average member of the bottom 99%.
“People today are profoundly worried about the wealth gap and what that means for the future life chances of the next generation.
“This is not the politics of envy. This is about the politics of empowerment. In politics there are few ideas as important as freedom and opportunity and aspiration. But if these words, these ideas, these ideals are to mean more than a punchline, more than a slogan, more than a soundbite, we have to recognise that there is no freedom without security and no security without wealth.
"This a big three-term project for any government. But it shows that even in tough times, there is a way to rebuild ambition and aspiration for the future. Not for some. But for all. I’m now convinced the answer is the renaissance of an idea that once inspired people of all persuasions: the wealth-owning democracy. That doesn’t have to be an impossible dream. This book shows we can do it – if we choose.”
Contact: Olivia Coyle at email@example.com
Notes to Editors
1. The Inequality of Wealth. Why it matters and how to fix it is published on 11th January 2024 by Head of Zeus. www.inequalityofwealth.co.uk For decades, those lucky enough to own significant assets have grown disproportionately wealthier, while those reliant on wages have sunk further back. In The Inequality of Wealth Liam Byrne offers a vivid and compelling account of today’s wealth inequalities and their profound implications, before exploring how we reached such disequilibrium through the ideology of ‘market supremacism’ and the working of the ‘privilege cycle’. In conclusion, he offers practical suggestions for a rebalanced UK economy, in which everyone has a rightful share in the nation’s wealth. Throughout, Liam Byrne makes clear that achieving a ‘democracy of wealth’ is not only vital to economic growth and the prospects of future generations, but also underlies the very stability and functioning of a free society. And he has a stark warning: the alternative is a dystopia, where super-rich individuals and corporations hold sway over weakened governments, and where populists and tribalists feed on resentment, disrupting national and social cohesion. Byrne draws on conversations with politicians, thinkers, economists, historians, journalists and reformers, together with experts at the OECD, World Bank and IMF to argue that – after twenty years of statistics and slogans – it’s time for solutions that aren’t just radical but are plausible and achievable.
2. The Rt. Hon. Liam Byrne MP chairs the House of Commons Business and Trade Select Committee and the Global Parliamentary Network on the World Bank & International Monetary Fund. He served in the Cabinet in 10 Downing Street and Her Majesty’s Treasury. An Honorary Professor of Social Science at the University of Birmingham, Liam was a Fulbright scholar at the Harvard Business School and Gwilym Gibbon Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. He has represented Birmingham Hodge Hill, the most income-deprived community in Britain, for the last 19 years and is the author of a major history of British capitalism Dragons: Ten Entrepreneurs Who Built Britain.
3. Forecasting the future wealth of the world’s top 1%
Average annual growth
Change ($ trillion)
Change (£ trillion)
People / group
$ wealth change per
£ wealth change per
Top 1% / Bottom 99%
Based on: Credit Suisse,
Global Wealth Book, 2009-
4. Praise for The Inequality of Wealth. Why it matters and how to fix it.
‘Byrne is an engaging writer, and his latest book is full of ideas.’ ― The Telegraph
‘Serves as an invaluable repository of recent ideas put forward by academics and think-tankers, collated through Byrne's wide-ranging experience in public policy.’ ― The Financial Times
‘Very few in frontline politics have worked as long as Liam Byrne on the theory and practice of tackling inequality - or are as thoughtful and insightful. This new book is essential reading for anyone who cares about tackling one of the great political and moral challenges of our time.’ ― Ed Balls, former Government Minister and Shadow Chancellor
‘The UK is an "inheritocracy" - a country where the richest, wealth-wise, have widened the gap with the rest, amplifying social inequalities. Liam Byrne's book is rich, practical and compelling in its proposals for turning this tide, elevating opportunities and living standards for many millions of people through sweeping institutional reform. I hope it is not just read widely but acted on immediately.’ ― Andy Haldane, Chief Executive, The RSA
‘The effects of inequality are not solely a consequence of poverty, they also result from how wealth and affluence skew society, undermining our social solidarity and wellbeing. Liam Byrne understands the devastating costs of wealth inequality, here is a politician with a true sense of purpose - this is a must-read for those who want to shape a better society.’ ― Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, authors of The Spirit Level
‘From the destructive impunity of today's phenomenally wealthy - the disfiguring feature of our times – to well thought out, original solutions, Liam Byrne makes an indisputable case. Powerful social observation combined with distilling the best of today's thinking in response - at once readable and passionate - does not come much better than this.’ ― Will Hutton, author of The State We're In: Why Britain Is in Crisis and How to Overcome It
‘A thought-provoking read about one of the most difficult yet most important political issues of our time.’ ― Lord Gus O’Donnell, former Cabinet Secretary
‘Liam Byrne has spent his years in opposition thinking deeply about what a government should do, and this book is the fruit of that work. This is a plan for a fairer, richer and stronger country, and I hope ministers pay attention.’ ― Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland
‘Liam Byrne's new book will help the British left to understand how freedom and equality should be reconciled. He takes the politics of inequality as seriously as we must, but shows us how combating inequality can help us to expand freedom.’ ― Philip Collins, columnist for the New Statesman
‘Liam Byrne's The Inequality of Wealth is beautifully written, deeply insightful and above all humane. The policy recommendations are original, bold and persuasive, and should define future debates on how to create a more just society.’ ― Prof Steven Durlauf, the Steans Professor in Educational Policy and the Director of the Stone Center for Research on Wealth Inequality and Mobility at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
‘In this bold and incisive book, Liam Byrne makes a compelling case for a radically different approach to wealth and inequality. Everyone who cares about the future of this country and of our society should read it.’ ― Matthew d'Ancona, former Deputy Editor of The Sunday Telegraph
‘Reducing wealth inequality remains an urgent global challenge. Liam Byrne has produced a well-informed, sharply-argued and highly-readable analysis of the problem - and more importantly what now needs to be done.’ ― James Crabtree, author of The Billionaire Raj
‘This is a wonderful book. Liam Byrne lucidly and elegantly explains why wealth inequality is a key challenge that needs to be at the centre of a meaningful politics of social justice. His thoughtful and creative policy ideas offer a practical platform for addressing these inequities and should command attention across the political spectrum. In these troubled political times, the wise counsel offered here is a great tonic.’ ― Mike Savage, Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics
‘Liam Byrne is now thinking about doing what was so very recently unthinkable. He is open to policies he once dismissed as unrealistic, and can be persuaded on others that in the past were painted as pipe dreams. British politics is changing, it is abruptly shifting, in a way it has not done in fifty years, and in a good way. The Inequality of Wealth is a key part of that turn. It is a hand-break turn.’ ― Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford