Did you hear?

February 1, 2014 

“Did you hear?” is a new feature in Sunday’s Money & Opinion section, featuring some of the most interesting, bizarre or just plain cool business news from the week. Take a look:


85 hold as much wealth as poorest 3.5 billion

Global capitalism, we have a problem.

We’ve long known that life isn’t fair and that the world’s wealth is unevenly distributed. But the latest factoid from Oxfam on global poverty and inequality is breathtaking. In a new report, the nonprofit reports that just 85 people – the richest of the world’s rich – hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That’s half the world’s population.

In other words, the top 0.00000001 percent are worth as much as the bottom 50 percent combined. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, control nearly half the world’s wealth, or 65 times as much as the world’s less-fortunate half.

On a country-by-country basis, the filthy rich have only been getting richer. Between 1980 and 2012, the wealthiest 1 percent increased their share of the spoils in 24 of the 26 countries Oxfam surveyed. This includes the United States, where the wealthiest 1 percent have captured 95 percent of all economic growth since the financial crisis of 2009, while the bottom 90 percent have gotten poorer.

Oxfam’s concern is not just that half the world’s population could be bought and sold by a group of individuals who could fit in a single large boardroom. It’s that this staggering disparity creates a vicious cycle.

Good luck, you half of the world’s people who hold less than 1 percent of its wealth. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Consumer news

Mint chocolate toothpaste spices up brushing routine

Chocolate? Vanilla? Lime?

The question is not what flavor of ice cream do you want. It’s what flavor do you want to use to brush your teeth.

Yep. Apparently, those two minutes of tooth brushing has gotten so boring, we need to spice it up with new flavors.

Procter & Gamble said Tuesday it is launching a line of Crest toothpastes called “Be” that feature nontraditional flavors including Mint Chocolate Trek, Vanilla Mint Spark and Lime Spearmint Zest.

The new line comes as Procter & Gamble turns toward new products to spur growth in developed markets like the U.S. amid declining sales.

But will people want to feel like they are brushing their teeth with Girl Scout Cookies? We’ll find out soon enough. The toothpaste line goes on sale this week, retailing for $4.99.


Lions and tigers and bears and a whole menagerie

Flying through Miami anytime soon? You might be surprised by what’s traveling through the skies under your seats in the belly of the plane. Some of the exotic and unusual cargoes shipped through Miami International Airport by American Airlines:

More than 100,000 pounds of live Florida lobsters weekly during lobster season.

•  Nearly 1.6 million pounds of live tropical fish last year.

•  Among other animals it has shipped: monkeys, lions, cheetahs and a harpy eagle, who had her own little first-class section in cargo hold

•  Among the largest creatures it has moved are whales, dolphins and sharks.

•  And finally, you guessed it, snakes … on a plane (albeit well secured ones).

Slate, The Associated Press and The Miami Herald contributed.

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