Winners & Losers: The Rich get richer, parting shots at Barrick Gold

The 1% had a great week, except for Peter Munk

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Winner: Wealthy Canadians

Always the (extremely rich) bridesmaid

Beaver with money

It’s no secret that the gap between rich and poor—and rich and merely well-to-do, for that matter—has been growing at an accelerating rate. Canada’s wealthiest can now take a certain amount of pride in being a major part of the trend. According to recent statistics from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada’s top earners have seen their wealth grow the second highest amount among 18 countries measured, behind only (sigh…big surprise) the United States. Canada’s top 1% captured 37% of the country’s total growth in pre-tax income. That compares to 47% in the U.S. and 23% in Britain and Australia. The OECD credits the wealth gap to changes in tax policies, bidding wars for “superstar” CEOs, and a rise in compensation via stock options. Still, it’s kind of a buzzkill after all the crowing we did about having more stable banks during the financial crisis.

Loser: Barrick Gold

Don’t slam the door on your way out

Peter Munk being dinged with a tiny gold bar

While Peter Munk’s final days as the head of the company he founded 30 years ago were fairly low-key compared to the sex-scandal and racism-fuelled goodbyes that all too often end corporate and public careers these days, they still weren’t exactly graceful. The outgoing chairman placed a potential merged deal with Newmont Mining in the hands of his successor, John Thorton, but Munk just couldn’t resist mucking it up on his way out the door. In a recent interview with the Financial Post, Munk criticized Newmont’s corporate culture, saying the company was bureaucratic, uninspired and “not shareholder friendly.” He also poured salt on an old wound, reminiscing over how Barrick created its fortune on a mine Newmont once declined to purchase thanks to its “incompetent” and “risk-averse” geologists. Needless to say, merger plans don’t look good. Munk closed out his 30-minute farewell speech to shareholders by stating, “I shall remain very involved with Barrick.” Time to change the locks.

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