Billionaires attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, expect to be richer when they return to the Alpine village next year.
About a half-dozen of the wealthiest participants, including Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, and Irish telecommunications mogul Denis O’Brien, said stocks will rise, interest rates will remain low and they’d avoid investing in the virtual currency Bitcoin in 2014.
“The bull market will continue, we’ve actually turned the corner,” Dangote said in an interview at the forum’s Congress Centre last night. “I believe it’s going to be a whole new ballgame. Things are improving in all sectors: in banking, in vehicle manufacturing, almost all the sectors. And I think we’ve left the bad past behind.”
Dangote is one of at least 80 billionaires joining more than 2,500 business and political leaders in Davos this week, according to a list of attendees and promotional materials obtained by Bloomberg News.
As billionaires bet on accelerating growth and rising asset prices, income inequality is emerging as a key theme for this week’s annual meeting. A study released last week by the forum identified the income gap as the most probable menace to the global economy during the next decade. Wealth disparity -- driven by globalization and the recent financial crisis -- threatens to breed poverty and social disorder, it said.
Billionaires attending Davos two years ago said income inequality was an issue they wanted to discuss amid the Occupy Wall Street movement, which targeted the world’s richest 1 percent.
The wealthiest people on the planet got even richer last year, adding $524 billion to their collective net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 300 wealthiest individuals. The aggregate net worth of the world’s top billionaires stood at $3.6 trillion at the market close yesterday, according to the ranking.
A study by UBS AG economist Paul Donovan last month found that pretax income of the top one percent of Americans amounts to about 20 percent of all U.S. income, which is comparable with levels in the early 20th century.
Using Gini coefficients to measure income inequality, Donovan found those for the U.S., U.K., Japan, France and Canada have each risen since 2005.