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The 10 biggest French fortunes amount to 60.6 percent of the Greek debt

Translated Saturday 5 September 2015, by Adrian Jordan

Wednesday 8 July, as every year, Challenges published its list of the biggest fortunes in France. A look over these aberrant figures.

At the head of the rich list, Bernard Arnault, boss of LVMH, still holds first place with an estimated fortune of 34.7 billion euros. He is followed by Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oréal heir, with 30.9 billion euros. Axel Dumas, head of Hermès International, moves up one place this year to become third with 24.1 billion euros, ahead of Gérard Mulliez of the Auchan group.

The head of Altice is now part of the family of “bigwigs”

Patrick Drahi, head of Altice, made a dramatic entrance into the French rich list top ten, passing directly from 12th to 6th place. Head of Altice (holders of SFR and Numericable in France, Portugal Telecom, etc), and also publications like Libération, his fortune is estimated to be 16.7 billion euros. And his fortune is in good health if you rely on the fact that Altice made a takeover bid of 10 billion euros for Bouygues Telecoms last 23 June. Patrick Drahi now has his eye on cable operator, Cablevision, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Aberrant figures

The ten biggest fortunes in France amass a total of 195 billion euros.

In 2014, France’s ten richest people possessed 141.5 billion euros, their fortune has therefore grown by 53.5 billion euros since last year, this being an average increase of 5 billion euros for each member of the top ten. Specifically, an annual increase of 5 billion euros represents a net “salary” of 417,000,000 per month (being 285,874 times minimum wage) during the year. That represents an increase in wealth of 38 percent in one year. In comparison, France’s GDP only grew by 0.2 percent in 2014 and minimum wage by 0.8 percent in the same period, going from 1,445.38 euros per month on 1 January 2014 to 1,457.52 euros on 1 January 2015. Figures to think about in that time of hardship for many families.

The means to wipe out the Greek debt

If one examines the figures in detail, the money possessed by the ten richest people in France represents 195 billion euros, being 60.6 percent of the Greek debt (321.7 billion euros).

The growth of the ten biggest French fortunes (53.5 billion euros this year) represents a sixth (17 percent) of the Greek debt. In other words, supposing that growth stays the same (while in reality growth accelerates a little each year), the Greek debt would be repaid in the space of six years just by the increase in wealth of the ten largest fortunes in France.

The world’s largest fortunes, with 549.7 billion euros, themselves cover 171 percent of the Greek debt.

The figures speak for themselves; the problem is not a lack of money but bad distribution of wealth. The richest, ever richer, are paradoxically the least taxed and toy with a tax system which is too soft towards them.

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