The world’s 722 biggest companies collectively are making more than $1tn a year (£780bn) in windfall profits on the back of soaring energy prices and rising interest rates, according to research by development charities.
The companies made $1.08tn this way in 2021 and $1.09tn last year, according to analysis of Forbes magazine data by the charities Oxfam and ActionAid. The collective profits were 89% higher than the previous four-year average covering 2017-2020.
Windfall profits are defined as those exceeding average profits in the previous four years by more than 10%.
Energy companies recorded the highest windfall profits. Of the 45 energy firms on Forbes list of the 2,000 biggest companies, they made on average $237bn a year in windfall profits in 2021 and 2022, according to the research.
The surge in energy profits has led to the creation of a total of 96 energy billionaires with a combined wealth of nearly $432bn – about $50bn more than in April last year.
Many food and beverage corporations, banks, pharmaceutical companies and retailers also reported a surge in profits during a cost-of-living crisis in which more than a quarter of a billion people in 58 countries experienced acute food insecurity in 2022.
Those profits have stoked accusations of “greedflation” – pushing through excessive price increases and driving up inflation.
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