Between 2009 and 2020, the wealth of French billionaires increased by … 439%, making France the second country where this growth was the most important after China, far ahead of other countries such as the United States (170% ) or the United Kingdom (168%), reported Sunday BFMTV. If the figure is enough to make your head spin, it also ulcerated part of the left, which widely relayed one of the channel’s graphics on social networks.
“Macron, president of the ultrariches, tells people of nothing to cross the street well and be good”, quipped the leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on Twitter.
“If the minimum wage had increased as quickly as the wealth of the ultrariche, it would be 4,805 euros net today”, observed the deputy (PCF) of Seine-Saint-Denis Fabien Gay.
Some have also scoffed at the much-criticized so-called “runoff” theory that when a state allows the wealthiest to enrich, the latter reinject their wealth into the economy, thus benefiting the poorest. “It’s dripping dry”, tweeted the spokesperson of the PCF and deputy mayor of Paris Ian Brossat.
Many have criticized Emmanuel Macron’s decision to abolish the ISF (solidarity tax on wealth) at the start of his term. “There was a real urgency in 2017 to abolish the ISF and introduce a flat tax”, quipped the deputy and spokesperson for the Socialist Party Boris Vallaud on Twitter.
“So, are we taxing these profiteers?” “, suggested LFI MP Manon Aubry.
Still others have criticized the graph itself, considered too simplistic and whose bars are not representative of the figures mentioned. Its distribution out of context, without the accompanying explanations, has also been criticized. How exactly to interpret this increase?
An increase due to the luxury sector?
The 439% figure has its source in a report by financial services firm UBS and firm PWC (PDF, page 22) published in October. It was repeated in an article by BFMTV, which reveals that among the billionaires, it is especially the super-billionaires who have become rich. Five French people are among the 30 largest fortunes in the world in the latest Bloomberg ranking. Among them, Bernard Arnault (3e), L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers (11e) or the Wertheimer brothers, owners of Chanel (30e), making France the second most represented country in this list, behind the United States.
Billionaires, Gafam, China … They are the big winners of the Covid
An unprecedented situation which is explained, according to the chain, by the rise of the luxury sector in the world, and in particular in emerging countries, these French people owing all their fortune to major luxury brands.
Thus, according to an annual study by Bain & Company, sales of luxury products have almost tripled in twenty years, going from 108 billion dollars in 1999 to 281 billion dollars (approximately 234 billion euros) in 2019, with in particular an acceleration in the 2010s due to the boom in the Asian market.
However, France is champion of luxury, underlines BFMTV, which recalls that nine French players hold 28.3% of market share in the world top 100 of the large groups of the sector. A market where the margins are between 30 and 40% on average, against less than 1% in the large food distribution.
Laurent Berger calls for a taxation of the ultra-rich
Enough to encourage a dizzying rise in the wealth of the ultra-rich in the luxury world, according to the chain, which explains that this boom is undoubtedly not over, the American consulting firm McKinsey predicting that the market could go from 2.4 billion d buyers worldwide in 2018 to 3.1 billion in 2025.
Is Europe finally ready to tax finance?
Privileged luxury sector or not, this increase has put the question of the taxation of great fortunes back on the table. Citing this figure of 439%, the secretary general of the CFDT Laurent Berger proposed Tuesday, May 4 the establishment of an exceptional tax on the ultra-rich to finance “A vast mobilization plan for youth”.
“We must appeal for solidarity in this period”, he said, recalling that while some “Have paid a very, very heavy price” because of the crisis, “The rich got richer”.