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Wealth inequality

"You are poor because you are in the wrong birth place (like Africa), you are young, and were denied opportunities. Most probably, you are uneducated and were malnourished when young, making you stupid today."

You can say life is unfair. The world is unfair.

In a population of 7.7-billion, the world has only 42.2-million dollar millionaires, an increase of 2.3-million in one year. These 42.2-million millionaires or high net worth individuals own 85 percent of global wealth. There will be 55-million dollar millionaires by 2023; 5.6 million will come from China.

For mid-2018, a Credit Suisse wealth study estimated that there are 42.0-million HNW adults with wealth between US$1 million and US$50 million, of whom the vast majority (37.1 million) fall in the US$1–5 million range

There are 3.3-million adults worth between $5 million and $10 million, and another 1.6 million have assets in the $10–50 million range.

North America now accounts for 18.6-million millionaires (44 percent of the total), compared to 12.4 million (30 percent) in Europe.

Asia-Pacific countries, excluding China and India, have 6.6-million millionaires (16 percent), and a further 3.5 million are found in China (8 percent of the global total). The remaining 976,000 HNW individuals (2 percent of the total) reside in India, Africa or Latin America.

Credit Suisse counts 149,890 adults worldwide are UHNW individuals, with net worth above $50 million. Of these, 50,230 are worth at least $100 million, and 4,390 have net assets above $500 million. In the year up to June 2018, UHNW adults rose 4 percent (5,790 adults).

The US leads with 70,540 UHNWs, 47 percent of the world total. China is second with 16,510; Germany third (6,320, down 710), the United Kingdom (4,670, up 400) and Japan (3,580, up 100). Also in the Top Ten are India: (3,400), Italy (3,220), France (3,040), Canada (3,010) and Australia (2,910).

By 2023, adults with wealth above $50 million—will increase by 55,000 to 201,000 individuals; half will reside in North America.

The global wealth middle class – those with net worth between $10,000 and $100,000—increased from 14 percent from 2000 to 27 percent and by 2023, to nearly 196 million, 29 percent of all global adults. The upper middle segment, covering those with wealth between $100,000 and $1 million, will grow by 88-million adults between 2018 and 2023. About one in 10 adults will then belong to this group.

The bottom half of the world’s adult population of five billion own less than 1 percent of total wealth.

To be fair the percentage of the adult population with wealth of less than $10,000 was 80 percent in 2000, equivalent to 3.2-billion people. Today, the ratio is 64 percent and will decline further, to 63 percent of the adult population, in five years. Their share of total wealth is small, $1.9 trillion.

“Those with low wealth are disproportionately found among the younger age groups, those who live in regions where prospects for wealth creation are very limited (most notably Africa) and where opportunities are sometimes constrained,” notes Credit Suisse.

So there: You are poor because you are in the wrong birth place (like Africa), you are young, and were denied opportunities. Most probably, you are uneducated and were malnourished when younga, making you stupid today.

Another 1.3-billion adults (27 percent of total adults in the world) have wealth of between $10,000 and $100,000. Their combined wealth exceeds $50 trillion. Combined net assets: $44 trillion. Average wealth per person of this group: $31,100.

Most of these people (with $10,000 to $100,000 wealth) are Chinese, 641 million of them, and 59 percent of Chinese adults.

The wealth of the rich just keeps rising. During the 12 months to mid-2018, aggregate global wealth rose by US$14 trillion to US$317 trillion, a growth rate of approximately 4.6 percent.

The 4.6-percent growth in wealth is greater than the 3.2-percent growth of the adult population.

The $317 trillion will swell by 5 percent per year over the next five years, to reach $399 trillion by 2023.

Credit Suisse explains or justifies why a few people are far wealthier than many others. Its wealth report says:

“Wealth differences between individuals occur for many reasons. Variation in average wealth across countries accounts for much of the observed inequality in global wealth, but there is also considerable disparity within countries. Those with low wealth are disproportionately found among the younger age groups who have had little chance to accumulate assets. Others may have suffered business losses or personal misfortune, or live in regions, most notably Africa, where prospects for wealth creation are very limited. Opportunities are also sometimes constrained for women or minorities. At the other end of the spectrum, there are many individuals with large fortunes, acquired through a combination of talent, hard work and good luck.”

If you want to get rich, you to the United States. The US has 17.3-million millionaires, 41 percent of the world’s total. More than 878,000 became new millionaires in the US last year, 40 percent of the global increase.

China comes next in most number of millionaires, 3.4 million or 8.2 percent of the world’s total. China eclipsed Japan which now has only 2.8 million, 6.6 percent of world’s total. Still, mean wealth per adult in China, $47,810 as of mid-2018 is much lower than Japan’s $227,240.

France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy each added 200,000 millionaires last year. In China, the number of millionaires rose by a modest 186,000 and in Japan 94,000.

“The main explanation for these increases in millionaire numbers within countries lies in the real wealth growth, rather than in exchange-rate movements. Millionaire numbers fell in very few countries [such as Turkey and Brazil], and by relatively small amounts, the main driver being currency depreciation,” explains Credit Suisse.

Some good news about the women. They now account for 40 percent of global wealth..

Says Credit Suisse AG Chair Urs Rohner: “During the 20th century, their share of wealth rose considerably and, since the year 2000, the level of women’s wealth has risen along with all household wealth, especially in Asia alongside the rise of China’s wealth.”

“The tendency shows that more self-made women are succeeding in business and are entering the highest wealth ranks.”

Topics: Tony Lopez , Wealth inequality
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